By: Eba Kandovazu
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula insists that Namibia’s sovereignty would not be threatened after the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) raised concerns with proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations.
These were discussed at the World Health Assembly 75 during the week of 23 May 2022 to 27 May 2022.
It is reported that it defines the World Health Organisation (WHO) members’ obligations on public health emergencies and other health matters.
It is further reported that the adopted amendments give the WHO’s Director-General unilateral powers to declare actual or potential health emergencies that are binding on all member States and to expect a response from such member States within 48 hours. Failing this, punitive measures would be introduced against such member States.
Shangula says there is no way that the WHO dictates what member States should do, that instead, the members direct the WHO on what should be implemented.
“The WHO then puts it in work. I always advise that people, upon seeing information that looks uncertain, consult with officials instead of going around spreading false, unwarranted information. This confuses the public because even you yourself don’t have accurate information,” Shangula responded to NUNW.
According to him, no decisions have even been made yet, that a report would be given to the World Health Assembly.
“The report would look at regulation amendments, whether or not to add and remove etc. The most important thing we noticed is that countries without medicine production and vaccines are at risk. We also noticed that the countries that produced Covid-19 vaccines in the beginning only vaccinated themselves without assisting the needy countries. These countries were neglected until the virus spread. They only started assisting after they vaccinated their people. So the procedure is that in case anything like this happens again, all countries should be assisted equally,” Shangula explained.
He added that those opposing such agreements are those pushing the USA agenda.
“Those opposing such suggestions are mainly the USA because they produce their own vaccines and medicines. Namibians opposing these things are agreeing that in case of another pandemic, we should not be assisted with medicine and vaccines, that we should just be the way we are. Namibians, we’re supposed to come to the ministry and ask for information. We can explain everything and how these types of things could benefit Namibia,” he said.
WHO member States are negotiating a WHO Pandemic Preparedness Treaty, which will enable the organisation to declare a global emergency, binding on all member States. Further, the treaty would impose its recommendations on such member States.
Shangula said it is a pity that Namibians are against the proposed amendments.
“They are pushing America’s agenda, but it is because they do not understand what is being discussed,” he stressed.
NUNW Vice President Phillip Munenguni says they are against the amendments because they have not been discussed in Namibia’s parliament or National Council.
“If Namibia accepts, WHO will dictate and force mandatory Covid-19 vaccines on us and everything else. They would be empowered to decide the fate of member states. It would also force Namibia to change its constitution and laws. We will not allow a sovereign Namibia to be ruled by other people. We want government to tell us what they discussed in Geneva, and they need to inform the public as well as debate about it in parliament, “he said.