Global Health Summit kicks off in Rome with focus on ensuring COVID-19 vaccines for all

Saturday, 2021-05-22 10:09:52
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Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi (2nd R) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (3rd R) co-chair the Global Health Summit in Rome, Italy, on May 21, 2021. (Str: Xinhua)
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The Global Health Summit kicked off in Roma, Italy, on Friday, with world leaders and representatives of international organizations gathering in a daylong conference aimed at coordinating worldwide efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual summit will close with an official Rome Declaration, formalizing the participants' commitments and providing recommendations and priorities for global health-related policies in the future.

Organized by Italy and the European Commission, it is a key event in the annual G20 Italian presidency's agenda, co-chaired by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

In his opening remarks from Villa Pamphilj where the event is taking place, Draghi thanked medical experts and scientific researchers for the invaluable contribution they have been making in the fight against the coronavirus emergency.

"The pandemic has underlined the extraordinary relevance of international cooperation for the current times and for the future," he said.

He said the scientific experts' knowledge and reports have been "crucial" in both setting up the summit's agenda and in outlining the final declaration that would be produced at the end of it.

"With all of the attendees, we will understand what has gone wrong in the fight against the COVID-19," he added.

Both Draghi and von der Leyen stressed that one key goal of the summit is to ensure coronavirus vaccination for the entire world population.

The European Commission chief pledged the EU would provide at least 100 million vaccine doses to low and medium-income countries by the end of 2021.

"Today we will discuss the lessons this pandemic has taught us, and the first thing I have learned is how much we need each other, and how much government leaders must work with health experts and scientists," she said.

"Everyone is concerned about public health, yet we must not forget how much the scientific community has helped us. ... If there is hope today, it is thanks to them."

Leaders from the G20 countries are taking part in the summit, including from China, the United States, India, Germany, Britain, Argentina, Russia, Japan, and the EU as a whole, plus Singapore, the Netherlands and Spain as guest countries.

Fifteen international and regional organizations are also represented, such as the United Nations and some of its agencies, the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to the Italian presidency's agenda, the summit would build on the Coronavirus Global Response -- a pledging marathon that raised almost EUR16 billion (US$19.5 billion) in donations in 2020 to support worldwide access to COVID-19 treatments, tests and vaccines -- and other health initiatives and processes.

It would also address the existing state and possible flaws of current multilateral institutions and frameworks dealing with global health.

Xinhua