C’wealth health ministers agree on coordinated corona response

Diplomatic Correspondent

21 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Commonwealth health ministers have agreed to coordinate their response in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. 

Ministers also endorsed removing fees for coronavirus tests and treatment, especially for migrants and refugees, within appropriate national contexts, and creating a voluntary mechanism to share and distribute extra medical supplies including ventilators and testing kits.

They agreed on the need for solidarity and cooperation among Commonwealth countries and that close working with the World Health Organization throughout the crisis was vital.

The Commonwealth Health Ministers met virtually on May 14 for their annual summit, which was set against the backdrop of a global health crisis. The theme of the meeting was ‘delivering a coordinated Commonwealth COVID-19 response’.

Ministers assessed the progress made to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, share effective solutions and agree on a coordinated response to COVID-19.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said, “We are now participants at an inflection point in history, and how we will be seen will be determined by how we act, right now, in this moment.” 

“The virus knows no nationality, race, religion, border or economic status. It is an interconnected issue threatening our global health and world economic order, and should be dealt with as such - guided by a culture of multilateral compassion and cooperation – not competition,” she said.

Globally, around 4.7 million coronavirus cases have been reported. Half a million of these are in the Commonwealth. Seven member states are among 12 nations worldwide that have not reported any cases.

The fast-spreading virus has contracted economies, shattered income streams and forced millions of people to stay indoors.