A coalition of 31 global think tanks has called for immediate abolishment of import tariffs that are applied by many countries on medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
According to them, these tariffs are driving up prices and reducing availability.
They also called on global leaders to avoid export bans, which are exacerbating global shortages of essential medical goods by disrupting global manufacturing supply chains.
These were in a statement issued by one of the think tanks, IMANI Africa, on behalf of the coalition in Accra ahead of World Health Assembly, to be attended virtually by member states of the World Health Organisation on May 17, 2020, in Geneva.
According to the think tanks, customs red tape should be reviewed to keep goods crossing borders as quickly as possible and commit to open trade to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement noted that innovation was crucial to finding a long-term solution to a newly identified disease like COVID-19, including the invention of new therapeutics and vaccines and their mass manufacture and rapid distribution.
“The think tanks call on governments to support needed innovation by facilitating the cross-border flow of epidemiological and clinical data related to COVID-19. They should also avoid pre-emptively removing intellectual property rights from any new vaccines or treatments that emerge.
The world needs more companies to join the quest for new treatments and vaccines, not policies that send a strong signal to stay away. Intellectual property rights are vital to support coordinated mass manufacturing scale-up and global distribution,” it said.
Franklin Cudjoe, founding president of IMANI Africa, was quoted to have said that, “we are concerned that many countries are looking to the failed ideas of the past to address the crisis.
Barriers are being erected that are deepening shortages of medical supplies, undermining innovation and hampering efforts to beat the disease.
His view as stated by the statement was that the situation was compounded in relatively poor and poor countries, where patients are being failed by the lack of investment in domestic health care infrastructure.
“Now is not the time for countries to look inwards. The crisis will only be resolved, and economies will only recover, if countries are allowed to trade and collaborate freely with each other,” Mr Cudjoe concluded.
BY TIMES REPORTER