Indonesia pushes vaccine multilateralism at D-8 meeting

Indonesia pushes vaccine multilateralism at D-8 meeting

A screenshot of Indonesian Vice Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar at the 17th meeting of the D-8 Ministers Council on Wednesday (April 7, 2021). (ANTARA/Aria Cindyara)

In the short-run, D-8 must stay at the forefront (in the campaign) to promote vaccine multilateralism, rather than vaccine nationalism and vaccine protectionism.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Vice Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar has highlighted the need for Developing Eight (D-8) countries supporting calls for equitable and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines amid the global fight against the pandemic.

"In the short-run, D-8 must stay at the forefront (in the campaign) to promote vaccine multilateralism, rather than vaccine nationalism and vaccine protectionism," he said at the 17th meeting of the D-8 Ministers Council, which he joined from Jakarta on Wednesday.

D-8 can play a crucial role in ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines are distributed fairly to all humans, without any constraints, he said.

"In this context, we need to support the COVAX platform as the only means to ensure equitable access to vaccines at affordable prices for all," he added.

Established in 1997 through the adoption of the Istanbul Declaration, D-8 comprises Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, Nigeria, and Iran.

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Since it was officially established 24 years ago, D-8 has aimed to improve the position of developing countries in the global economy and promote the welfare of people in developing nations, Siregar said.

However, development disparities between developed countries and developing nations remain and have even worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he pointed out.

In response to the global phenomenon, he urged D-8 to serve as a positive trigger and part of the solution to the pandemic.

He said he believed that over the long run, D-8 will be able to become self-reliant in responding to the pandemic.

"Strengthening research and development, as well as the medical and pharmaceutical industry network in D-8 member countries must become our new priority," he stressed.

He further spoke of the initiative to explore Indonesia's potential to serve as a hub for COVID-19 vaccine production for the region and Muslim countries.

"In the spirit of solidarity with Muslim countries, we are open to collaborating with other D-8 member states in this context," he said.

In its early days of development, the D-8 was aimed at uniting the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states to tackle injustice and dualism on the part of Western countries.

However, over time, it has transformed into a non-exclusive religious group that aims to promote the welfare of its member states' people through social and economic development.

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