Malawi: Chakwera Speaks Tough At Unga - Urges Developed Nations to Cancel Debts, Release Covid - 19 Medicine Rights

24 September 2021

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has urged developed nations to consider cancelling debts as a way of helping poor African countries recover from the economic devastation caused by the ills of Covid - 19 pandemic.

Making his virtual presentation at the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held in New York, Chakwera o Wednesday emphasised that cancellation of debts is the single most impactful thing that would help developing nations like Malawi build back better and not be left behind.

"We already have a social economic recovery programme for addressing the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. But what is missing is the debt cancellation that will help us focus on recovery.

"The effectiveness of this approach has already been proven by the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). So, I say again cancel the debts," said the president.

Chakwera also called on the developed nations to fulfil the $100 billion pledge they made years ago to mitigate climate crisis in Africa.

"It's been over ten years since the developed nations that polluted our planet the most pledged 100 billion dollars towards climate mitigation and adaptation.

"These are nations that tell the rest of us to follow their example, nations that tell us to consider them friends, nations that call us corrupt and untrustworthy when we say one thing and do another, nations that tell us that they are the leaders in this global village," emphasized Chakwera who is also SADC Chairperson.

Chakwera added: "Well it's time to show that leadership. Fulfil your pledge. Mind you, this is not a donation. This is a cleaning fee, because if you pollute the planet we all call home, it is only right that you should pay to clean it up."

The Malawi leader then wondered why developed nations are holding on to Covid - 19 vaccines when least developed countries are dire need of it.

"It is reported that half a billion vaccine doses being kept by developed countries will expire in three months. Release the vaccine doses and the vaccine production rights to save human lives.

"In most of the 46 member states of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the 16 member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), both of which are chaired by Malawi, vaccination rates are below two percent," said Chakwera.

The Malawian Head of State and Government hinted that the rate would be at zero percent were it not for the COVAX Facility coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization.

"With such limited access to vaccines, we have had to make the most of preventive and remedial measures.

"In Malawi alone, we have brought three waves of the pandemic under control without the use of lockdowns; we have constructed and staffed recovery centres in record time," Chakwera said.

Chakwera explained that the south-eastern nation have so far treated Covid patients and registered a recovery rate of over 85 percent and the country have cut infection rates down from 40 percent to less than five percent.

"We have kept the death toll from Covid below 3000 and we have facilitated monthly cash transfers to support thousands of households exposed to loss of income by the pandemic.

"But in a world where the virus keeps mutating and spreading, the measures we have employed to achieve all this are not sustainable," said the Malawi president.

According to Chakwera, getting the majority of the people vaccinated is the most effective weapon Malawi needs.

Said Chakwera: "You can imagine our disappointment to be at an assembly like this, rubbing shoulders with nations that are now administering booster shots while most of our people have yet to get their first one. This form of vaccine nationalism is wrong,"

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