Minister Tangara reiterated the government’s commitment during his speech at the Summit-level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement Contact Group in response to post COVID-19 pandemic period in Baku, Azerbaijan, on March 2, 2023.
Dr Tangara, on behalf of President Adama Barrow and the people of The Gambia, hailed the exemplary leadership of the Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) for mobilising and bringing together the voice of the Global South to the multilateral response to the pandemic.
He said the meeting geared towards bringing solutions to the many challenges caused by the pandemic is timely and important. “It is indeed timely and critical that the entire membership of NAM comes together to chart a way forward for our collective recovery from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. “We must equally share our thoughts on the state of global pandemic preparedness considering the critical lessons learnt during the pandemic.”
With the many challenges facing the world, the Gambian foreign minister said the path to global recovery will be long, painful and hard for the Global South due to obstacles such as the near collapse of healthcare delivery systems to the economic strife that people are facing, coupled with burdensome inflation, energy and food crises that are negatively impacting societies.
Minister Tangara posited: “We must think outside of the box and come up with immediate and life-changing solutions. Economic growth is down, business activity is down, and unemployment is rife everywhere. There is hardship across the world and people are suffering. There is need for urgent relief across the world. As the international community, the big question is we must continue to grapple with what we can do to accelerate relief and recovery at the same time.
“The most pressing challenge that most of our countries face is economic strife, unsustainable debt burden and cost of living crises exacerbated by the on-going Russia-Ukraine war in terms of inflation, higher energy and food costs. Our economies are being adversely impacted in ways that are undermining our recovery efforts despite the international support that is being provided.”
Furthermore, Dr Tangara underscored the need to revisit the high debt burden and debt-servicing, especially, for the least-developed countries which he said calls for an urgent solution. “Perhaps, we need to revisit the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) of the past as part of the plethora of solutions to the relief-recovery-development conundrum out of the pandemic as well as the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030,” the minister said, adding: “We must get back on track to implementing Agenda 2030 by leaving no one behind.”
Dr Tangara also used the forum to call on governments to better prepare by putting in systems, policies and resources in order to be able to address future challenges. This he says can better be done by strengthening healthcare systems, and build resilience to respond to Covid-19 outbreak, adding that the government of The Gambia is still rolling out vaccination campaigns to further reduce COVID cases, while preventing future outbreaks.
“We need to reinvest in our healthcare delivery systems to not only prepare for the next pandemic, but we must also invest in having the tools and systems to prevent outbreaks in future,” he advised.
NAM’s leadership in mobilizing global efforts to fight the pandemic once more demonstrated the movement’s influence and responsibility, thus the aim of the forum is to formulate the position of the movement concerning the post-COVID-19 era.