“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
This quotation from the late American civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King, was highlighted by Antigua and Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, E.P. Chet Greene in commenting on reports that the richer countries and large pharma companies are hoarding the COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking with PointeXpress, Greene said the reports coming out of the current meeting of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board concerning the issue constituted “one of the most frightening developments of our time.” He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every nation across the world; small economies more so than large ones, have been under immense pressure.
“Here in Antigua and Barbuda, our economy is predicated on tourism which has been shut down by the pandemic. One would understand easily the value of a vaccine to the reopening, revival of this industry and to other small island economies around the world that depend on tourism. The notion that large countries, which for the most part are the developers of the vaccines, are hoarding the vaccines to the exclusion of small nations only foretells the kinds of problems we will have going forward,” he observed.
The foreign minister feels that without the vaccines Antigua and Barbuda and others will be left ‘wide open’ to further economic degradation as well as the health challenges that will persist.
He continued that hoarding of the vaccines places poorer nations in “existential danger” or a danger zone where the lives of people in poorer countries do not appear to matter. “This can’t be the global family to which we pride ourselves of being a part,” he stated.
Foreign Minister Greene is expressing hope that the incoming Biden Administration in the US will adopt messages that will redound to the benefit of the smaller more vulnerable states, such as Antigua and Barbuda.