Wednesday, February 9, 2022 — His Excellency Ambassador Colin Murdoch, the Permanent Observer of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva, has commended the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Commonwealth Secretariat for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation on health, including access to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.
The MoU was signed at a ceremony held at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, The Right (Rt.) Honourable (Hon.) Patricia Scotland QC, and the WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Through the MoU, both Parties commit to work together to strengthen the exchange of information on seven priority areas:
- Promoting universal health coverage and primary healthcare;
- Strengthening global health security;
- Promoting healthy environments;
- Promoting the health of vulnerable groups;
- Transforming lifelong learning for health impact;
- Building a data partnership; and
- Creating space for innovation and exchange of knowledge.
In his remarks, Dr. Ghebreyesus emphasised the value of partnerships in ensuring that all people can achieve the highest level of health possible. Meanwhile, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland stressed the need for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. She also expressed her vision for a safe, equitable and just world.
Speaking at the ceremony on behalf of the OECS, Ambassador Murdoch congratulated the WHO and the Commonwealth Secretariat on this milestone.
The full statement has been reproduced below in its entirety.
“It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of the MOU being signed between two leading international organizations, the Commonwealth and the WHO. We wish to commend the vision and hard work that has brought us to this point.
Over the past two years, the WHO has been thrust to the forefront of world affairs by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in this regard, we wish to commend the visionary and robust leadership of Dr. Ghebreyesus and his team in very difficult circumstances. We certainly offer Dr. Ghebreyesus our best wishes as he looks forward to his second term in office.
There can be no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be overcome by any single organisation, even one like the WHO that is focused on public health.
This MoU creates a multiplier effect. This MoU provides value-added that would be impossible were both organisations working alone. This MoU broadens the scope of cooperation for tackling the pandemic and its pernicious effects. In fact, the agreement creates a template that the international community, in general, would do well to pay attention to.
I hope what is done here today shines a light on the path that needs to be taken in international affairs, not only for the pandemic response but in all areas of human endeavour. We need to correct the uneven and inequitable pandemic response that has plagued our efforts so far. This MoU helps with that.”