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African Union Chair Ramaphosa Urges Debt Relief and Universal Health Care at WHA Summit

May 20, 2020 (EIRNS)—In his address to the World Health Assembly, May 18, South African President and African Union chair Cyril Ramaphosa drew attention to the interconnection between economics and health care, and that any recovery must ultimately address both aspects of the problem. Addressing the Assembly opening session, the President of this BRICS country recognized the “profound social, political, economic and security implications” of the virus; that it was affecting not only the health, but also the livelihoods of millions, particularly in Africa.

“Although the virus has impacted both developed and developing countries,” Ramaphosa said, “it is the poor who suffer the most. The pandemic has highlighted the dangerous and growing differences that exist between countries and within them.” The health care systems of many countries are struggling to cope, he emphasized, some because of underfunding, others because “they were designed to serve the select few.”

Recognizing that the crisis was going to be with the world for some time, Ramaphosa raised the issue of debt relief. “We need to prepare to adapt accordingly.... The African Union has made a call for developing countries to be assisted in their efforts to combat the pandemic, and to re-build their economies. This assistance needs to include debt relief....”

Looking toward the future, Ramaphosa described a global health outlook similar to that elaborated by Schiller Institute President Helga Zepp-LaRouche, saying:

“To turn back the frontiers of the pandemic, we also need to deepen international collaboration around research and development and investment in essential medical technologies, in COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics and in vaccines....

“In this final decade towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, we must press ahead with our goal of making universal health care a reality for all the people of the world. The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the essential value of universal health coverage and should propel countries to act with greater urgency to make it a reality....

“Let us continue to be bold and courageous in confronting this pandemic.

“Let us continue to collaborate and to act in the best traditions of social solidarity.”

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