Dear Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus,
A pleasure being with you today.
At the outset, I would like to thank Indonesia for hosting the first virtual Foreign Policy and Global Health ministerial meeting. In the current challenging circumstances, we appreciate the efforts undertaken by Indonesia during its chairmanship and praise its unwavering leadership in this commitment.
Although we have diverse cultural backgrounds and face different development challenges, as a group, we are joined together by our common goal to promote the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental human right.
In fact, I would say that our diversity is our strength. By respecting our differences, sovereignty, promoting mutual understanding and focusing on the crucial priorities, we can achieve meaningful results and influence the international agenda.
Brazil has a robust universal health care system and this system has performed well during the pandemic so far, and we are ready to share our national experiences with all of you, and also other national policies that we have adopted successfully.
The pandemic has demonstrated that events originating in one country can rapidly affect all of us, in the most unpredictable way, and we must, therefore, work in all geometries–bilateral, regional, multilateral, formal and informal–to address the pandemic, and this group is a proof of that.
Whilst we fully appreciate the need for international dialogue and cooperation to address the pandemic, ultimately, it is incumbent, however, upon states to take the necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of their citizens. Recommendations and directives from international health bodies must be duly adapted to national circumstances.
Brazil defends the universal and equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and treatment for COVID-19, at affordable prices. We have sought to engage in international initiatives, such as the “ACT-Accelerator”, “COVAX Facility” etc. We have also explored bilateral arrangements with international vaccines consortiums, both at the federal and state level.
We believe it would be important for FPGH members to regularly exchange views and engage in joint actions to promote greater transparency and participation in decision making processes of such arrangements, including technology transference and local production, where possible.
Based on our joint experience, I am confident that FPGH can mobilize the necessary capabilities to achieve meaningful results in this endeavor.
We stand ready to cooperate with FPGH members to ensure the necessary supply of vaccines and other essential medical supplies. In the following months, if the clinical tests now taking place all over the world are successful, we believe we may be in the position to meet domestic demands in Brazil for vaccines and help supplement supply to third countries. We are working hard to promote universal access to vaccines both in Brazil and abroad.
Brazil recognizes the important role of the WHO and the Pan-American Health Organization in the pandemic, but, unfortunately, and with all due respect, we remain critical of their overall response to the crisis. We believe it is of the utmost importance to undertake a comprehensive, objective and timely assessment of the international response to the pandemic, in order to identify the gaps, failings and fragilities, as well as to propose the necessary measures for reform.
We believe that part of the response to the pandemic is better multilateral institutions, and I think all of us should join in that endeavor. It is sure that the challenge of the pandemic has exposed fragilities that were there and that are not a fault of this or that actor in the international system or in the multilateral system. We must address those fragilities.
Brazil co-sponsored the COVID-19 resolution in the last World Health Assembly, which called for an independent panel to evaluate the international response to the pandemic. We certainly believe this is an important first step, but member states should be prepared to take the driver’s seat and assume a leading role in the process. By exchanging views and promoting dialogue, the FPGH membership could play a relevant role in this crucial initiative.
So, the response is better multilateral institutions, better bilateral and plurilateral cooperation and coordination, and better national policies.
To end, I would like to add that affordable food is also part of affordable health, and it is very concerning to us, for Brazil, as one of the largest food producers and exporters in the world, which has not curtailed its food production and exports, on the contrary, which has increased its production, it is very concerning for us to hear, according to several sources, that more than 100 million people in the world are at the risk of starvation as a consequence of measures taken as a response to COVID-19. We have to factor in the question of food affordability and access in any health considerations.
Now, to end, just to add that the pandemic also should not be a pretext of the curtailment of fundamental rights. We all here share democratic principles and those principles should form the basis of our societies in any response to any challenge.
Thank you very much.