Over $30 bn needed to develop COVID-19 tests, trea
Over $30 bn needed to develop COVID-19 tests, treatments, vaccines: WHO - Arab News
GENEVA: The World Health Organization said Friday that a global initiative to speed up the development and production of COVID-19 tests, vaccines and treatments will require more than $30 billion over the next year. Providing details of the so-called ACT acce…
KUALA LUMPUR: Experts and labor rights advocates are urging the Malaysian government to address labor issues in the country following the decision by the authorities to put a stop to the recruitment of foreign workers. We will not allow foreign workers until year-end. They (foreigners) can come as tourists, if they are allowed, said Malaysian Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan earlier this week in a report from state media Bernama. The decision was taken amid the high unemployment rate and looming economic recession due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government hopes that the move will give priority to locals to take up vacancies. The Malaysian Statistics Department forecasts that at least 1 million Malaysians will be out of work by year-end. We try to reduce foreign workers in the workforce besides giving priority to locals to secure jobs, said Saravanan, adding that the government would evaluate the effectiveness of its policy by the end of the year. As an emerging economy, Malaysia has a high dependency on low-skilled workers. According to the International Labour Organization, about one third of foreign workers are employed in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and construction. There are about 1.8 million foreign workers in Malaysia, but the number may be higher due to the employment of illegal immigrants and refugees. Most of the foreign workers come from poorer countries in South Asia and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations), with the highest numbers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and India. Despite the call by the government for Malaysians to take over jobs from foreign workers, experts and labor rights groups warned that the government must address problems in the labor market, especially jobs that have been traditionally deemed as dirty, dangerous and difficult. We must not fall into the jobs for Malaysians First rhetoric as it may backfire later, said Adrian Pereira, executive director of the North South Initiative, adding that the authorities must thoroughly study labor market needs and the availability of human resources, be they locals or migrants. He told Arab News that the government must address serious labor and human rights abuses against migrant workers in Malaysia. Forced labor has been normalized in Malaysian industries. It will not be fair to ask Malaysians to fill in those kinds of jobs, he said. Andy Hall, a migrant worker specialist, told Arab News that the government decision to get more locals to replace foreign workers might not be as realistic. The global surge in demand for rubber gloves created by the COVID-19 crisis has expanded the need for cheap labor as production ramps up. Malaysia is the top supplier to the global rubber gloves market. It is normal across the world they say this. They would promote local employment and/or allow existing foreign workers who are irregular or unemployed to change jobs, Hall said. Will local Malaysians workers do the work, either at low pay and hard work or will employer/government subsidies pay more? However, Malaysian Trades Union Congress Secretary-General J. Solomon is optimistic and welcomed the governments move but urged it to push for a better deal for blue-collar Malaysians. This is a positive move to check Malaysias overdependency on migrant workers and hopefully bring about a comprehensive review of the low salaries that would encourage Malaysians to take up the jobs, he said. Solomon told Arab News that automation must be made a top priority, as it would stop the vicious cycle of employers hiring legal and illegal migrants on low wages.
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Act-Accelerator update - World Health Organization
- The tools developed will benefit the whole world, and by saving lives and reducing severe COVID-19 disease, contribute to the goal of protecting health systems and restoring full societal and economic activity globally in the near term, and facilitati…
Today, the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) published its consolidated investment case, alongside the costed plans of the member organizations. Launched at the end of April 2020, at an event co-hosted by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, the President of France, the President of the European Commission, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the ACT-Accelerator brings together governments, health organizations, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists who have joined forces to speedup an end to the pandemic. Since the ACT-Accelerator was launched, the partner organizations have moved fast to develop costed and implementable plans designed to contribute to the end of the pandemic through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of new tools to reduce rapidly mortality and severe disease, protecting health systems and restoring full societal and economic activity globally in the near term, and facilitating high-level control of COVID-19 disease in the medium term. ACT-Accelerator investment case and costed plans The ACT-Accelerator’s investment case and the plans published by the organizations leading each of the ‘pillars’ show a path to the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of 500 million diagnostic tests to LMIC’s by mid-2021, 245 million courses of treatments to LMICs by mid-2021, and 2 billion vaccine doses, of which 50% will go to LMICs by the end of 2021. To achieve this, the costed plans presented today call for US $31.3 billion in funding for diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, of which US$3.4 billion has so far been pledged. An additional US$27.9 billion is therefore needed, including US$13.7 billion to cover immediate needs (i.e. US$17.1 billion is immediately required, of which US$3.4 billion has been pledged). The investment required is significant, but it pales in significance when compared to the cost of COVID-19: the total cost of the ACT-Accelerator's work is less than a tenth of what the IMF estimates the global economy is losing every month due to the pandemic. 468,000 thousand people have already lost their lives. The tools developed will benefit the whole world; the ACT-Accelerator pillars will also buy and deliver tools to ensure that LMIC’s have access. The ACT-Accelerator’s investment case is available here. ACT-Accelerator pillars The ACT-Accelerator is led by the work of partner organizations collaborating under four pillars. The diagnostics pillar is co-led by FIND and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and aims to save 9 million lives and avoid 1.6 billion further infections through the power of equitable access to simple, accurate and affordable tests. With sufficient funding, it can bring to market 2–3 high-quality rapid tests, train 10,000 healthcare professionals across 50 countries, and establish testing for 500 million people in low- and middle-income countries. Its success will be determined by how quickly test, trace and isolate strategies can be put in place, to minimize disruption of health services and prepare countries for the effective roll-out of therapeutics and vaccines once available. The investment case is available here. The therapeutics pillar is led by Unitaid and the Wellcome Trust (on behalf of the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator) and seeks to accelerate the development and equitable delivery of treatments at all stages of disease, ensuring they are accessible to all, regardless of geography and level of economic resource. It targets development, manufacture, procurement and equitable distribution of 245 million courses of treatment for populations in Low and Middle Income Countries within 12 months. The investment case is available here. The vaccine pillar, combines CEPI’s leadership in vaccine development and investment in manufacturing with GAVI’s track record in revolutionizing access and delivery, and WHO’s oversight of regulation, policy and allocation. Its role is to ensure that vaccines are developed as rapidly as possible, manufactured at the right volumes without compromising on safety and delivered to those that need them most. The current estimate to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, assuming a safe and effective vaccine is developed in the near future, is up to US$18.1 billion. In addition, 950 million doses will need to be procured by self-financing high-income countries and upper middle-income countries through the COVAX Facility. These numbers will become clearer once we get a better idea of, among other factors, the technology that the successful vaccine candidates will be based on and the number of doses required to protect people from COVID-19. The investment case is available here. The health systems connector is the fourth pillar of the ACT-Accelerator and supports the other three by ensuring that health systems and local community networks can fully utilize these and other essential tools in their battle against COVID-19. This pillar is led by the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and supported by the WHO. It aims to build capacity – such as laboratory capacity, training for laboratory and health staff and management of protective equipment for health workers – needed to deploy the new tools effectively when they are ready. It also works on system innovations to complement the rollout of products, such as contact tracing, social distancing and isolation approaches as well as community engagement needed to sustain them. Global health security and the fight against COVID-19 depends on shoring up health systems around the world, now. Call to action Since its launch, many governments and companies have signaled commitment to the ACT-Accelerator and made financial pledges. To date, contributing countries have committed a total US$3.4. The funding gap is US$ 27.9 billion. On 27 June the Global Goal: Unite for Our Future, campaign, concert & summit will be calling on citizens to tackle global injustices by using our collective voice to drive change for everyone, everywhere. World leaders, corporations and philanthropists will announce new commitments to help develop equitable distribution of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as rebuild communities devastated by the pandemic. Unite with Global Citizen, the European Commission, top artists and global leaders to end COVID-19, build equity for all and fight for the world we want. Link: https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/connect/globalgoalunite/ Notes to Editors The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, EC, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020. The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible by reducing COVID-19 mortality and severe disease through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it. The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation.  An additional $1.7 billion has been pledged for health systems.  The timeframe is 18 months for the vaccines pillar. For more information please see ACT-Accelerator.
Prince Charles diversity speech doesnt sit well with Meghan Markle fans - Geo News
Prince Charles draws ire from fans of Meghan Markle who have slammed him over a speech about diversity
Prince Charles has received flak from Meghan Markle's fans over a speech about diversity that he made recently. On Monday, Clarence House shared a speech online to mark Windrush Day, a celebration of Caribbean immigrants contributing to the British economy after their 1948 arrival. In the speech, Charles could be seen praising the diversity in the UK, saying that the diversity of our society is its greatest strength and gives us so much to celebrate. Shortly after, the Prince of Wales fell prey to online backlash wherein he got blasted for remaining silent when his daughter-in-law, Meghan Markle, faced undue pressure and unfair treatment by the British press. What about the way Meghan Markle was treated by some royal family members? And that British media? one Twitter user commented. People who live in glass castles should not throw stones. Another one commented, These are just empty words. Thats rich coming from you. I dont think you believe them. If you did you would not have sat silently by and let the [British] Media crucify Meghan you [sic] daughter in law and the only example of diversity in your family. Shameful that he did not think the diversity in his own family was its greatest strength & much to celebrate,' wrote a third. Mere empty words, spoken by the Prince of Wales. Disgraceful! Meanwhile, a fourth royal fan commented, "Gosh. Maybe some day [sic.] a member of the royal family will marry a beautiful, accomplished African American person. Then the family can unite around this person with love and support when they are victimized by racists. Oh wait Charles was also a hypocrite for doing nothing to defend Meghan when she was bullied by the royal family and the press. Earlier, Charles' son Harry said that the way the British media has portrayed Markle had "racial overtones."