Statement by Prime Minister of Nepal Rt. Hon. Mr. K P Sharma Oli at the ‘31st Special Session of the UN General Assembly in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic’
3 December 2020, New York
I thank you, Mr. President, for convening the Special Session on COVID-19 Pandemic.
With its unprecedented scope and speed, the pandemic has affected everyone, everywhere. The tragedy is unspeakable, with over 1.3 million lives lost and almost all societies, economies, and nations severely suffered.
The present pandemic is not just a health emergency. It is a wake-up call against the widening inequality among and within the nations and humanity’s failure to live in harmony with nature.
Yes, we all are in the same firestorm. Some of us may think that we are well protected, but it is not so. All of are in danger.
The pandemic has taught us a precious lesson. This world is a small boat, we all are its passengers. We like it or not, we share the same fate.
Like any other countries, Nepal was not prepared for the crisis of this scale.
However, we have deployed all political, economic, human, and technological resources at our disposal to contain the virus.
We are guided primarily by the three objectives of strengthening of health care system; protecting people’s lives; and building a sustainable and resilient recovery.
Testing and treatment services are provided free of charge to the needy people. Necessary infrastructures, human and financial resources, and medical equipment are ensured to the health systems in federal, provincial, and local levels.
Beginning from almost none, we extended PCR testing facility to 68 laboratories across the country. More than 70 hospitals have been designated as COVID-19 hospitals. We are moving ahead with the target of building hospitals with basic health care facilities in all 753 Local Levels.
We developed total 48 sets of COVID-19 related Protocols and Guidelines.
Raising public awareness about health protocols, safety and sanitization through social organizations, individuals, mass media, social media and daily briefing by the Health Ministry have been particularly useful.
Nepal commends the United Nations, and in particular the WHO, for their global coordination and leadership during the crisis.
While we confront the challenges, a robust global response is a must to fend off this crisis.
First and foremost, we must give a fresh lease of life to multilateralism.
We need a revitalized multilateralism that is capable of tackling pressing challenges of our time, from poverty, hunger and rising inequality to climate crisis and global pandemic.
For this, we must choose a path of cooperation and solidarity, not solitary action.
Second, the pandemic should not be used as a pretext for backtracking from international solidarity and commitments. Countries in special situation stand in need of greater support to stabilize their economy, safeguard fiscal space, and tackle debt crisis.
Third, while we are encouraged by the good news about vaccine, uncertainty looms large if this will be available for all. We commend the initiative of COVAX to ensure access to vaccines to all- the rich and poor.
The world will not be safe from the pandemic unless universal coverage of vaccine is ensured.
When the entire humanity is in crisis, we strongly believe that life-saving vaccines cannot be the means of maximizing profit. They must be truly global public goods affordable and accessible to all countries and all people.
Finally, as we look to recover and rebuild better, our efforts must be aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. We must invest in health and social protection systems; invest in infrastructure and create jobs.
National endeavors in this regard must be complemented by international support measures.
The present crisis demands a genuine commitment to save lives and global unity to protect societies. Human civilizations have always endured devastating challenges and recovered better.
We must not falter. We must act now, and act as one community, one civilization and one world.
We must rebound better than ever leaving no one behind.