Prime Minister of Barbados and Chairman of CARICOM, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley.
PM Mottley calls for fairness
PRIME Minister of Barbados and Chairman of CARICOM, The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley has once again made a case for greater equity as it relates to regional access to funding, supplies and other goods.
She was at the time addressing the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly which began in Geneva yesterday where she called on global leaders to change the criteria which at present is causing vulnerable countries to fall through the cracks.
Prime Minister Mottley during a 15 minute address, pointed out that many of the challenges and vulnerabilities facing the region are not captured by the country’s per capita income or infant mortality rates.
“Even when our circumstances deteriorate, there has been no review that takes into account the inherent vulnerability to which we are exposed and which prevents us from being able to access critical money or goods. In addition, the use of certain proxy criteria to access technologies, medicines, vaccines or concessional funds and grants, would exclude vulnerable countries such as ours in the Caribbean, some in Latin America and even in the Pacific.”
Prime Minister Mottley explained that this happens when criteria is used that are more relevant to fighting problems that have little or no relevance to our current vulnerabilities and challenges facing the region.
In addition, the CARICOM chair said where there is a global market failure as is happening now, small middle income states are at risk of not being seen or heard or not even accessing critical goods and supplies.
“I take this opportunity to thank Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus ]for reaching out to the Executive Director of the Global Fund... to advocate for the countries in the region that have been excluded from procurement through the consortium of critical COVID-19 medical supplies. We need to be included.”
“It is also therefore clear, that we need therefore additional criteria to determine equitable access and fair allocation – criteria that better take into account that vulnerability which we have. And if we are asking for the same solution for climate, external shocks as we are now asking for the pandemic, it is because all three destroy our capacity to produce as nations and the ability of our people to survive.”
Prime Minister Mottley stated that there is a need for a Global leadership initiatives, recognising that without the Pan-American Health Organisation, the Caribbean Public Health Agency and more recently the WHO, one would believe it is the “wild wild west”, “where only those who are strong and well-endowed should survive”.
“It is the intervening hand of these agencies that I just mentioned, that has sought to move us as a region, closer to a level playing field but my friends there is still much work to be done.”
The Prime Minister reiterated that moral leadership will finally recognise that the use of historic per capita income to determine access to concessional funds or grant funds to determine fair access to the procurement of goods is unacceptable.
She noted that this equitable access and fair allocation of resources will allow small states, particularly middle income ones, dependent on tourism to be able to have access to increased supplies for
testing during the COVID -19 pandemic.
“Such that we can reopen our societies safely to intra-regional travel and,thereafter, to extra-regional travel. But it will also better allow us to ensure that there is a return to safe work, by safe people, the least vulnerable people to COVID-19 in our countries.”
“While we can tolerate high unemployment and severe contraction of our economies for two or three months, the consequences to our societies of prolonged shutdown are as equal as the high incidence of COVID among our population. That is why we need urgently, to get access to adequate numbers of the appropriate tests, in particular the rapid tests that are affordable and reliable if we are to allow our economies and societies to reopen safely.”
“Our small states have been suffering from high debt and low growth for decades. We believe that there should also be mature and relevant conversations for middle income, small island developing states across the globe especially as it relates to our debt obligations in the midst of this pandemic.”
“Many countries will either have an orderly restructuring of debt or at the very least a debt moratorium that provides certainty for both the borrower and the lender, or they will have a disorderly unravelling that will create a crisis both within their respective countries and within the global financial markets. These conversations must admit of greater certainty in the management of our affairs and I pray that the global community will have the courage to allow us to have them,” Prime Minister Mottley said.