Dr. Daisaku Higashi from Sophia University calls on Japan to play an increasing role in international health policy. JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov. 20 (IPS) – Japan should step up its role as a global facilitator for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, said Dr. Daisaku Higashi recently based on a study by the Japan Parliamentarians Federation for Population (JPFP).
The country should use the post-World War II credibility as a peace-building country to ensure that developing countries are involved in vaccine adoption.
Higashi, a renowned commentator from Sophia University, warned that only an international effort could solve the problems caused by COVID-19
“Even if Japan somehow manages to contain COVID-19, as long as the pandemic continues elsewhere in the world, it could keep coming back once our border is opened to large numbers of foreign visitors,” he said. “The global economy will contract as a whole if the global pandemic continues, severely affecting corporate profitability and employment in Japan.”
“With almost half of Japan’s trading partners being developing countries, it is in Japan’s interest to contain the disease worldwide. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is a global threat that no country can fight alone, it is a human security issue, ”Higashi said.
Dr. Daisaku Higashi from Sophia University calls for Japan to play an increasing role in international health policy. His comments are especially pertinent as Pfizer and a German company, BioNTech, released preliminary data in November showing their coronavirus vaccine was over 90 percent effective. A week later, Moderna reported similar results that his vaccine was 94.5 percent effective. Higashi said that all countries should be encouraged to join COVAX – an institution for the joint procurement of safe vaccines.
COVAX, which operates under the auspices of ACT Accelerator, aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure fair and equitable access to every country in the world.
Higashi welcomed the Japanese government’s decision to join the facilities and pledge up to $ 500 million in market contributions to give developing countries access to the vaccines through the COVAX facility.
“This is really the moment Japan should play its role as a ‘global facilitator’ to foster dialogue for the development of global solutions to COVID-19, with Japan as the host country and with ideas from participating Member States, international organizations and experts NGOs, ”he said.
Japan should use its leverage to get the US, China and Russia not participating in COVAX to join, Higashi said.
Dr. Kayo Takuma of Tokyo Metropolitan University has called for Japanese support from COVAX to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. International health and policy expert Dr. Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Kayo Takuma addressed the challenges of global health collaboration, Takuma said while several other global health issues would have led to international collaboration on health9 and infection control if it stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Serious challenges arose as the spread of the coronavirus had far-reaching implications not only for health, but also for the global economy and the growing insecurity due to poverty.
This created “more room for good or bad for politicizing the pandemic,” Takuma said.
“The cooperation between the USA and China against SARS, World Health Organization (WHO) -U.S. The cooperation against H1N1 influenza and the US leadership against AIDS and Ebola are some examples of good practice in international cooperation on health, particularly infection control, ”he said.
However, amid tensions between the US and China, Trump criticized the WHO for focusing on China and failing to fulfill its basic tasks and withdrew from the WHO.
While President-elect Joe Biden has announced his return to WHO, concerns remain that the International Health Agency may remain underfunded and in need of reform.
“As the history of the US initiative to found the WHO and its leadership role in global health shows, the loss from the US withdrawal will not only be felt in funding. There are a variety of other areas (that will be affected) as well, including human talent, medicines, and America’s place in the world, ”Takuma said. He reminded the audience that the US contributions made up 12% of the WHO budget.
He said China is playing an increasing role in promoting global health as part of its Belt and Road initiative. The reality, however, is that “while China is promoting its vaccine and mask diplomacy, it is nowhere near replacing the US in terms of funding or ability to deliver medicines, due to a lack of confidence in the quality of Chinese vaccines and Masks is occupied. ”
There were other calls for a reform of the WHO – Germany and France wanted to strengthen the authority of the WHO in initial responses to health crises.
Like Higashi, Takuma called on Japan to actively campaign for COVAX and other framework conditions for a fair distribution of vaccines around the world.
“The country could strengthen cooperation with the US and China as Japan has good relations with both countries and is focused on working with Asian countries through initiatives such as the ASEAN Center for Infectious Diseases,” he concluded.
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