PRIME Minister Hubert Minnis. (File photo)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
ACKNOWLEDGING the destabilising effect Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 have had on The Bahamas in the last year, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis expressed support for the World Health Organisation’s work in a speech during the body’s general assembly meeting yesterday.
The 73rd World Health Organisation meeting considered the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and The Bahamas recorded a milestone during proceedings when Keva Bain was elected president of the 73rd session of the assembly.
Dr Minnis recorded a video message that was played during the meeting.
US President Donald Trump has attacked WHO’s response to COVID-19 in recent weeks and has halted funding to the group. However, countries through a draft resolution acknowledged the body’s constitutional mandate to act “as the directing and ordinating authority on international health work” while “recognising its key leadership role within the broader United Nations response and the importance of strengthened multilateral corporation in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its extensive negative impacts.”
The draft resolution also called for a probe into the origin of the coronavirus pandemic, including an evaluation of the WHO’s response and timelines.
Dr Minnis said: “Last September we experienced Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic in recorded history, which ravaged our second and third most populous islands and economic centres. Now COVID-19 has closed our borders and destroyed our tourism-dependent economy. Economic recovery is halted even as we prepare for the impending hurricane season in our region, which begins on June 1 and extends to November 30.
“The twin, unprecedented events of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to destabilise our health response and our public health gains. These two seismic events threaten to widen inequities and increase the burden of non-communicable diseases. We benefited greatly from application of WHO tools, particularly when testing capacity was limited. We support the draft resolution that addresses timely access to quality, safe, affordable and efficacious diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines.”