Global Covid Summit: Modi calls for WHO, WTO reforms

Amid the persistence of the coronavirus pandemic in many parts of the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a reform of the UN health body, and a review of its processes on vaccine approvals.

Making a case for a joint India-South Africa proposal made in 2020, Mr Modi also called for the World Trade Organisation to be more “flexible” on the issue of patent waivers.

Speaking at the second global Covid summit co-hosted by the United States on May 12, PM Modi pitched for “stream-lining WHO’s approval process for vaccines and therapeutics to keep supply chains stable and predictable”. “It is clear that a coordinated global response is required to combat future health emergencies. We must build a resilient global supply chain and enable equitable access to vaccines and medicines,” PM Modi said.

“WTO rules, particularly TRIPS need to be more flexible. WHO must be reformed and strengthened to build a more resilient global health security architecture,” he added.

The Global Covid Summit was addressed by a host of world leaders, including U.S. President Joseph Biden, and the leaders of the African Union, European Union, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Japan and South Korea.

PM Modi underlined that as a responsible member of the global community, India would continue to play an active role by sharing its low cost indigenous COVID mitigation technologies, vaccines and therapeutics with other countries. India is working to extend its genomic surveillance consortium and is using traditional medicine extensively, he said.

India has also  laid the foundation for a WHO Center for Traditional Medicine in India to make this knowledge available to the world, he said. India, PM Modi said, has supplied over 200 million doses to 98 countries, bilaterally and through COVAX.

“India has developed low-cost COVID mitigation technologies for testing, treating and data management. We have offered these capabilities to other countries… India’s Genomics Consortium has contributed significantly to the global database on the virus,” he added, enumerating the country’s contributions in the fight against the pandemic.