Norway has joined a coalition along with Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland, the US and UK, who have pledged to donate 10 percent of their supply of the vaccine for the H1N1 virus to developing countries. The initiative was proposed by US President Barack Obama and has the full support of the Norwegian Government, according to the Norway Post.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said that: “Pandemics do not respect national borders. Our ability to protect ourselves against infections depends on other countries’ ability to protect themselves. The poorest countries are particularly vulnerable, and that is why this initiative is so important.”
Mr Store went on to add: “This is an important initiative and a new form of global solidarity. The world’s poorest are already suffering due to weak health systems in many developing countries. The pandemic is an additional burden. It is therefore important that together we seek to resolve a global crisis that does not respect national borders. Priority must be given to the most vulnerable groups, particularly pregnant women and health workers.”
The multi-national agreement will see the donations managed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which will coordinate the distribution of the vaccine to the poorest people in developing countries. The Norwegian Storting (national parliament) has still to ratify the agreement although the proposal has been adopted in principle.
Bjarne Haakon Hanssen, the Minister for Health and Care Services in Norway claimed: “We have been able to ensure extensive vaccine coverage for the Norwegian people at an early stage, and it is good to know that we can make a contribution at global level”.