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Norway is to lead the effort to ensure that the global activities to fight the Covid-19 pandemic are as effective as possible. Together with South Africa, Norway has been chosen to co-chair the Facilitation Council for the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which has been set up to promote equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
‘If we are to succeed in beating this pandemic, we must make sure that this work is as effective as possible. I can’t think of anything more important right now than ensuring equitable access to vaccines, tests and treatments,’ said Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein.
A core group of countries and international actors was set up in response to the G20 leaders’ statement calling for actions to promote equitable global access to universal health coverage, vaccines, tests and treatments. The initiative was spearheaded by the European Commission and WHO. Norway was invited to be part of the core group of heads of state, and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg participated. Now the core group is being expanded, and a Facilitation Council is being established to continue the international effort to mobilise a global response. Norway has been asked to co-chair this council with South Africa.
‘Becoming co-chair of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council is an important signal that we are maintaining our leadership role in the field of global health. Norway is a small country, but it is clear that our engagement in this area has been noticed. The Covid-19 pandemic and the measures implemented to combat it are creating a development crisis. Taking on this important role is therefore completely in line with Norway’s efforts to fight poverty,’ Mr Ulstein said.
‘This crisis will become much worse if we do not manage to ensure effective international cooperation. It is of crucial importance to strengthen the coordinated global effort between countries and key health actors such as WHO and the EU. Norway is now taking on this new role in order to expand international cooperation and promote a spirit of solidarity. The pandemic has shown how dependent we are on each other, and that we are stronger together,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
Norway’s main task will be to mobilise continued support for the global response to the pandemic. Our work will also involve providing advice and support for the work being done under the four ACT-Accelerator pillars (diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health system strengthening), defining the agenda for further efforts, promoting effective coordination between the various actors involved, and dealing with the processes and any political clarification needed as efforts to combat the pandemic move forward.
‘It is vital for us to take part in this concerted global effort, and to ensure that other countries are on board too. Part of our role here will involve mobilising other countries so that we can find good global solutions. This is the key to enabling us to emerge from this crisis,’ Mr Ulstein said.
The European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) will continue to lead the ACT-Accelerator process, and will support the work by implementing a common global agenda for promoting equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
‘The fact that Norway is being given this role is a significant recognition of our past and ongoing engagement in strengthening multilateral global health efforts. It is in everyone’s interests to bring an end to this pandemic, and we must all do our utmost to achieve this. The European Commission has now asked Norway to play a leading role in this key international effort. This is a vote of confidence in our capabilities,’ Mr Ulstein said.
What is ACT-Accelerator?
- ACT-Accelerator stands for Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, a global coalition of governments, health organisations, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists whose common goal is to end the pandemic as quickly as possible.
- ACT-A seeks to ensure the equitable distribution of treatments, vaccines, tests and health services.
- The European Commission has asked Norway and South Africa to co-chair the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council.
- Read more about ACT-Accelerator here: https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator