World Bio-Summit in Korea: Ensuring Global Healthcare for All

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Global health-security substantially reclines on the innovation and proliferation of bio-industry today. Scourges of Covid-19 pandemic have intensified the gravity to nurture global biologics in addressing contemporary health-security equation worldwide. In this resonance, Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Republic of Korea in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) has co-hosted the inaugural World Bio-Summit which was scheduled on October 25 to October 26, 2022 at the Grand Walkerhill Seoul in Gwangjin District, Eastern Seoul under the theme “The Future of Vaccine and Bio-health.” Rationale behind the very first World Bio-Summit can be traced in the long-sustained relics of inequitable access of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostic devices and other inevitable bio-medical equipment to combat unexpected crisis situations such as Covid-19 pandemic between global South and global North. To be more precise, vaccines and other diagnostic devices have emerged as paramount instruments to strive against existing global health crisis endorsed by Covid-19 pandemic which has claimed over 6.5 million lives till now.

Despite these opulent developments of bio-technology, mostly the possessor countries could not incorporate underdeveloped and developing countries to be on-board within their advanced security-shields. Neither could underdeveloped countries enhance their technological skills, nor were they aided with sufficient funds. They had to mostly depend on the imports of vaccines and diagnostic devices from the possessor countries. And owing to unavailability during crisis periods and lack of affordability, these lower and lower-middle income countries especially in Africa and Asia has ended up multiplying contagious cycle of diverse lethal variants of Covid-19 waves that still persist after more than two years.

Nearly 12.8 billion doses of vaccines have been inoculated worldwide accomplishing vaccination of 68 percent global population at least for once as of October, 2022 including Covax facilities. Now, unveiling existing lacuna of consumption patterns, Direct General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has addressed that, one-third of the world’s population still remain unvaccinated including two-third of health workers and three-quarter of older people in low-income countries. Then again, Director General of International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Jerome Kim has noted that; 76 percent of people in least developed countries still remain unvaccinated and overall 85 percent of vaccines have been used by high and upper-middle income countries by now. Thus, inequitable access to bio-medical resources has substantially stumbled pandemic responses in lower and lower-middle income countries.

– Iffat Anjum is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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