In an apparent reference to the World Health Organisation (WHO), External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar today called for the reform of multilateral systems in the wake of COVID-19 crisis.
Multilateralism was the only way forward, he said even as he referred to the centrality of development and growth in the global agenda.
Jaishanakar was addressing a video conference of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), chaired by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. China was represented by its Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The video conference was convened in the backdrop of the pandemic and the discussions centred around its impact and BRICS’s response. BRICS brings together almost 42 per cent of the global population with impressive growth, investment and trade share.
Jaishankar’s comments are important since the role of WHO has come under sharp criticism from several countries, particularly the US, for the delay in responding to the outbreak of COVID-19 at Wuhan in China.
The Indian minister highlighted the initiatives and various decisive steps taken early by India in the wake of the pandemic. He highlighted that much before the outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern by WHO, India instituted measures to check coronavirus.
He apprised the BRICS foreign ministers about the initiative to coordinate efforts to contain COVID-19 in South Asia and the creation of COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund by the SAARC countries. India is providing pharma assistance to nearly 85 nations, including many countries in Africa, on a grant basis to support their response to the pandemic. This has been widely welcomed.
Jaishankar emphasised that the pandemic was not only posing a great risk to the health and well-being of humanity but was also severely impacting the global economy and output by disruption of global trade and supply chains. Economic activity across sectors has been negatively impacted leading to loss of jobs and livelihoods.
He emphasised that businesses, especially MSMEs, must be supported to tide over the crisis. It must also be ensured that livelihoods were not lost. He pointed out that the efficacy of traditional medicine systems to strengthen immunity should be recognised and that BRICS should support these efforts.
A virtual meeting of BRICS health officials is envisaged on COVID-19 pandemic on 7 May to take the discussion forward in a focused and purposeful manner.
Source: msn news