President Erdoğan urges equal access to vaccines
ANKARA- Anadolu Agency
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 21 slammed "severe injustices" in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines, urging world leaders to ensure fair access to the jabs for everyone.
Speaking at the virtual Global Health Summit hosted by Italy, Erdoğan said 80% of the world's vaccines have been secured by high or upper-middle-income countries.
"While a majority of the population in developed countries has been vaccinated with at least one dose, this rate has not reached even 1% in Sub-Saharan Africa," he said. "We support the efforts of multilateral financial institutions, and initiatives for fair access to vaccines."
Stressing that Turkey has been trying to share the vaccines it has with other countries, Erdoğan said: "As soon as it is ready, we will offer our indigenously developed vaccine to the benefit of our citizens, as well as of all humanity."
Turkey has so far sent medical devices and equipment to 158 countries and 12 international organizations, he told world leaders.
“We organized training programs for manufacturing personal protective equipment in order to strengthen the capacities of some developing countries,” he said.
“We paid particular attention to the needs of disadvantaged populations,” Erdoğan said, referring to Turkey’s efforts to ensure that four million refugees in the country had “uninterrupted access to healthcare services."
About anti-coronavirus restrictions, he said the “control measures should be coordinated and proportional, should respect the delicate balance between health and economy, and reinforce the central position of the World Health Organization (WHO)."
He underlined the “central role of the WHO” in strengthening the global health system, saying: “We support the reform process being carried out in this regard."
Erdoğan said international travel and tourism should be made possible by ensuring adequate health and hygiene conditions.
The Turkish president warned against "new walls and a new kind of discrimination between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated." Many countries are introducing "vaccine passports" – proof of vaccine – as a condition of entry.
"There is no justification for any country that is a member of the WHO to refuse to accept a vaccine approved by this body," he said.
Earlier this month, the WHO listed China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving it a green light to be rolled out globally. It is, however, yet to be approved by the EU.
Other vaccines approved by the UN health agency are Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, and Moderna.
The Turkish leader argued that “establishing a ‘good practices database’ among G20 countries would make it easier to take measures against future crises."
“The initiative to defer debt payments prevented the pandemic from escalating into a global debt crisis," he said.