FM: Global healthcare cooperation must be totally depoliticized

The foreign minister expressed hope that as a consequence of COVID, everybody understands that “human health has nothing to do with geopolitics.

Speaking at a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York on Wednesday, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said global healthcare cooperation must be totally depoliticized in order for the world to be better prepared for a potential future pandemic.

Minister Szijjártó told a high-level meeting on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response that the coronavirus pandemic had demonstrated “how defenseless we are regardless of all our super highly developed technologies and artificial intelligence at our disposal”. “Unfortunately, we cannot give back the lives of those hundreds of thousands who have died … but we do have to draw and understand the conclusions in order to be more protected in the future,” he added. “One of these lessons we have to learn is that all those strategic capacities might look useless under normal circumstances, but under emergency circumstances, they can save lives,” Szijjártó said. Hungary is building its own vaccine factory and is now able to produce masks, gloves and ventilators as well, and has its own air cargo delivery capacity, he added. He expressed hope that as a consequence of COVID, everybody understands that “human health has nothing to do with geopolitics. Virus does not know any borders, any ideologies, any political affiliation”. To be better protected, the world must come to an era of real global cooperation, which is not being limited, restricted or influenced by global politics, he said. “Those who allow health care to be confused with global politics will be responsible for the fact that we cannot save the lives, we cannot protect as many people as many could have been protected with real cooperation,” the foreign minister said.

The foreign minister said Hungary was subjected to “tremendous” attacks because it had purchased vaccines which were manufactured in Eastern countries, and these criticisms and attacks were without any kind of professional aspects. Minister Szijjártó said that Hungary completed the most successful vaccination campaign in the European Union because the government bought vaccines from the East and West at the same time. The government considered vaccines as tools to save lives and not as a political statement, he added. “The decade of dangers is coming up and we cannot exclude that new viruses will put challenges ahead of us,” said Szijjártó, calling it a global responsibility to be better prepared. “If we approach this issue in a political manner, we will fail,” he added. Global health-care cooperation must be totally depoliticized and all UN member states have to do their best in order “to make WHO the most professional and the most depoliticized organisation of power in a national political region”, the foreign minister said, concluding his address.