Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Holness calls for greater cooperation to reduce global inequalities and risks

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2020 | 11:09 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addressing the UN General Assembly late this morning in a pre-recorded speech.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for greater investments and strengthened international cooperation to address significant global inequalities and to lower risks that continue to retard development.  

In a pre-recorded address to the United Nations General Assembly today, Holness said the pandemic, for instance, has exposed and compounded gross inequalities in the delivery of health care, as health systems come under strain; and risks, especially for the elderly and those living with non-communicable diseases, rise. 

He said greater investment in the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) must become priority.  

"The pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of investing in non-communicable diseases' prevention and care. Bridging the investment gap for NCDs must, therefore, be at the central pillar for our response to the pandemic and health security," he said, pointing out that given the limited fiscal space, the Government of Jamaica has taken a whole of government approach to the crisis, while mobilising the support of citizens. 

Gender inequalities, digital divide have deepened

The prime minister also argued that the pandemic has deepened inequalities to the disadvantage of women and girls, exposing more to domestic violence and loss of livelihood. He said the government is taking steps to ensure its response to the COVID-19 crisis takes into account the plight of women and girls. 

"We are committed to furthering our engagement of the UN and our international partners to implement The Spotlight Initiative and increase our advocacy through mechanisms, such as the Group of Friends and Women, Women's Economic and Gender Parity and Women's Peace and Security," he told the UN General Assembly. 

Holness also underscored that the pandemic has exposed the extent of the global digital divide, noting that half the world has no access to the internet, even though  the pandemic has accelerated the need for developing countries to adopt a digital approach towards development, and has provided opportunities for them to leap frog.   

"We call on the global community to respond with increased bilateral and multilateral cooperation in this area, which promises exponential increase in human capacity and economic dividends," he said.   

He said Jamaica is heartened by the clarity for action demonstrated by ministers with responsibility for the digital economy from G20 countries.

"All hands and ideas must be deck for our national and collective digital resilience," he said. 

He also noted that as co-convener for the high level event: Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, along with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, Jamaica remains committed to developing solutions to enable countries to respond and recover.  

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