On the occasion of the G20 Summit, scheduled for 30th and 31st October in Rome, Caritas Internationalis is calling to accelerate global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not enough has been done until now, and a stronger political will is yet needed.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Aloysius John reaffirms that “turning promises made on vaccines into concrete action needs immediate attention before it is too late. Unless equitable access to the vaccine is guaranteed to the most vulnerable people in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), we will not get out of this pandemic. It is a global responsibility to make not only vaccines available and accessible but also to support the strengthening of the health systems of most vulnerable countries, whose already precarious social and economic conditions have further been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”.
Caritas Internationalis believes that access to vaccines is a basic right, and the citizens of developing countries must have access to them. Today the Intellectual Property Rights on COVID-19 vaccines are a major obstacle in addressing the pandemic promptly. Pope Francis said, “It is only in solidarity we can all get out of this crisis”. Caritas advocates for global solidarity to help Least Developed Countries to tackle the pandemic, as well as for the transfer of the necessary technological know-how to encourage local production of vaccines wherever possible. Otherwise, sustainable recovery from this crisis will be impossible.
International debts also weigh on Least Developed Countries who tend to focus all their efforts on debt servicing and not on their citizens’ welfare.
In a recent study undertaken by the Caritas network, for example, in Zambia, since 2012, the repayment of debt was undertaken at the detriment of core services to the population, including vaccines, education, healthcare, water and sanitation. “it is vital to address debt repayments as one of the effective ways to enable the poorest countries to protect people in need and getting out of this crisis” says Aloysius John.
Therefore, Caritas Internationalis is calling on all G20 leaders to:
- Ensure equitable access to vaccines, and promote integral health systems of Low-income Countries to guarantee adequate storage and the adoption of comprehensive vaccination policies adapted to local contexts.
- To immediately suspend the Intellectual Property Rights on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments so as to enable more countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines.
- All expenditures related to debt servicing due in 2021 and 2022 should be written off immediately and permanently. This initiative should be linked to a more comprehensive approach to debt crisis resolution, with the creation of a systematic and comprehensive process for sovereign debt restructuring through the United Nations.