Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the 2020 Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for every Woman, Every Child, 13 July 2020

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this event, which addresses some of the most important issues facing humanity today.

The Coronavirus pandemic is testing the social, economic and political resilience of many countries around the world but more especially developing countries.

Many of these countries, especially African countries, already face challenges of extreme poverty, a lack of basic infrastructure and services, inadequate social protection systems, poor health care capacity and pre-existing disease burdens.

The pandemic is placing an additional burden on already constrained health care systems.

This global crisis has starkly highlighted the value of universal health coverage in responding to health emergencies and the need for robust health systems to save lives.

South Africa fully supports the efforts of the World Health Organisation to ensure there is universal health coverage across the world.

The reality that we must now confront is that the response to the COVID-19 crisis has required countries to reprioritise the allocation of their resources by diverting crucial technical and financial resources from other critical areas.

The health of women has been adversely impacted through this reallocation, particularly in sexual and reproductive health services.

There is a real danger that this will contribute to a rise in maternal and newborn mortality, increased unmet need for contraception and an increased number of unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections.

South Africa believes sexual and reproductive health services are crucial for a thriving society, including access to maternal health care and interventions related to gender-based violence.

As countries of the world we must ensure this pandemic does not worsen existing inequalities in society or impede the realisation of the rights of women and girls.

We must ensure that our response enables young people in particular to shape the world that will emerge from this crisis.

It is significant that 65 out of the 169 Sustainable Development Goal targets refer to young people explicitly or implicitly, with a focus on their empowerment, participation and well-being.

It is our desire that developing countries should have equitable access to safe and effective medicines and new health technologies.

We call on upon the global community to undertake the actions that are urgently needed to ensure collaboration on the development of knowledge, intellectual property and data for existing and new therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics for COVID-19.

I would like to commend governments around the world for their collaborative efforts towards advancing Sustainable Development Goal 3 on ensuring health and well-being for all.

This includes a bold commitment to end HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases by 2030.

Fighting this global pandemic requires us all to work together in collaboration with the United Nations as a united force. 

Indeed we are stronger together.

I wish this meeting success with its deliberations.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa