The United Nations Technology Bank has formed an alliance with the UN Development Programme, UN Conference on Trade and Development and the World Health Organisation to increase access to life-saving health technologies for Nigeria and other developing countries.
A statement by the UN said this would be achieved through the Tech Access Partnership in which the responses of governments of developing countries to COVID-19 would be supported with the development and adaptation of new technologies.
As demand for personal protective equipment, medical devices and diagnostics increases exponentially amid the global pandemic, the agency noted that countries with limited resources were unable to purchase or produce the tools they need to mount effective responses to COVID-19. According to them, lack of access to technical expertise, training and regulatory frameworks also limit local production of essential equipment in these regions, particularly for more complex products such as ventilators.
It said TAP aimed to address critical shortage of essential health technologies and equipment by connecting manufacturers with expertise and emerging manufacturers in developing countries to share information, technical expertise and resources necessary to scale up production of these tools.
The partnership, according to the UN, will also support countries to develop affordable technologies and equipment that meet quality and safety standards. “Now, more than ever, the global community needs to unite to save lives and secure sustainable futures. Inequalities are exacerbating the technology and digital divide when it comes to opportunities for youth, creating a divide that threatens to leave them behind,” the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed said.
“Increasing access to necessary technologies through partnerships is a crucial component of the United Nations’ COVID-19 health, humanitarian and socio-economic response.” She said TAP would be led by the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, established in 2016 to assist governments with the development and adaptation of new technologies.
According to her, the initiative, which is open to all developing countries, will also be supported by its core partners, UNDP, UNCTAD and WHO. “Without access to life-saving technologies, many developing countries are unprepared for the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19,” the Managing Director, UN Technology Bank, Joshua Setipa, explained.
“By enabling developing countries to produce these technologies themselves, we can help set them on the path to recovery.” TAP’s key functions, according to the statement, will include product information, technical guidance and partnerships to match companies based on expertise, needs and capacity.
“TAP’s role in advancing more equitable access to critical health technologies is fundamental to help developing countries in responding to the immediate and devastating effects of COVID-19,” UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, said.
The partnership, according to the statement, is centred on the UN Development System’s overall approach to counter the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes scaling up global capacity for testing and treatment, providing social protection for the most vulnerable and making countries resilient to future pandemics.
“The Technology Access Partnership can be an important part of the effort to help developing countries recover from this crisis,” the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, said. “By expanding the skills and capacity of local manufacturers, the initiative can boost innovation and contribute to inclusive economic growth,” Kituyi added.
As an initial pilot, the statement said TAP would begin working with manufacturers in several developing countries around the world.