Universal access to affordable and accessible vaccine is crucial — Hishammuddin

Universal access to affordable and accessible vaccine is crucial — Hishammuddin

KUALA LUMPUR: Vaccination is a human right that must be respected, protected, and fulfilled, thus universal access to an affordable, accessible and equitable vaccine is crucial, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pix).

He said international cooperation is extremely crucial at this juncture to ensure effective coordination and follow up on efforts of the United Nations system to promote and ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to face Covid-19.

He said in the same spirit, Malaysia has joined the Covax Global Vaccines Facility, and is collaborating with countries around the world to ensure that vaccines must be made a global public good.

“The world is anxiously waiting for the development of a safe and effective vaccine to stem Covid-19, and some countries have also begun their national roll-out plans or are taking part in Phase Three Clinical Trials.

“While these are positive developments, there is a high risk that global competition will increase the prices of vaccines and other medical treatment which will affect our efforts for global immunity,” he said in his opening speech at the 2020 International Human Rights Day Virtual Forum, in conjunction with the World Human Rights Day today.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said the Malaysian government has identified that the economic impacts of the pandemic have affected more women than men, thus gender-responsive policies under the Prihatin and Penjana stimulus packages has been implemented, including cash assistance for single mothers, childcare subsidies and flexible work arrangements.

“We are also focused on addressing the rise in gender-based violence cases during the pandemic, and took measures to safeguard and protect women by setting up helplines, online advocacy, shelters and providing counselling services.

“The welfare of migrants, refugees, and stateless people in Malaysia were also not forgotten and have been given equal importance with free health screenings and medical treatments related to Covid-19 provided for all foreign nationals, regardless of their immigration status,” he said.

He said Malaysia remains committed to following up on the recommendations received during the 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November 2018, and that, to this end, a multi-stakeholder biannual consultation, involving all line agencies, academia and civil society, has been institutionalised.

“From these consultations, we also recognise the need to improve our monitoring mechanism and have agreed to use the National Recommendations Tracking Database (NRTD) developed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as it will facilitate monitoring and coordination among agencies. — Bernama