Coordinating at all levels to ensure a safe pandemic exit

August 25, 2021 | 08:00
In a bid to secure sufficient vaccine supply for domestic inoculation, Vietnam is boosting diplomatic activities, with the establishment of the government’s Working Group on Vaccine Diplomacy. Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son talked with VIR’s Thanh Dat about the country’s efforts in this area.

What is the significance of the establishment of the government’s Working Group on Vaccine Diplomacy?

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son

With the appearance of new pandemic variants since the beginning of 2021, the fight against COVID-19 in our country is entering a new period.

With the motto “5K + vaccine + technology”, the vaccine strategy is considered both an urgent and a strategic long-term task for us to control and move forward.

As our country has been unable to successfully produce a vaccine against COVID-19 and the world’s vaccine resources are scarce, vaccine diplomacy is a very important front.

Through vaccine diplomacy, our country has so far received millions of doses of vaccines from the international community. The vaccines not only directly serve pandemic prevention but are also of great significance in many aspects of domestic and foreign affairs, politics, defence, security, and socioeconomic development.

Due to all these strategic considerations, on August 13, the prime minister signed a decision on establishing the government’s Working Group on Vaccine Diplomacy headed by the minister of foreign affairs, and members of various other ministries and departments.

In the current context, the establishment of this working group is very important.

Firstly, it reaffirms the consistent policy of our Party and state that protecting people’s health is first and foremost, mobilising all domestic and international resources to the fullest in order to soon bring socioeconomic activities and people’s lives back to normal as soon as possible. Secondly, it shows the government’s determination and decisiveness in implementing a strategy to expand vaccinations to the entire population. Thirdly, the working group is a mechanism to strengthen the close and synchronous coordination among relevant ministries to promote and improve the effectiveness of vaccine diplomacy.

What plans does the working group have to access vaccine sources at the soonest?

Members have met and agreed to promote the highest sense of responsibility to the Party and people, to take initiative and closely coordinate with one another in an urgent, creative, and effective manner.

With that spirit, the working group will provide advice and deploy drastic and synchronous campaigns both bilaterally and multilaterally, domestically and through Vietnam’s representative agencies abroad, in all forms, directly and online, in order to access the most vaccines the quickest and earliest.

The working group will focus on several key tasks. Firstly, it will promote and mobilise international partners and organisations to continue providing aid, cooperation in production and technology transfer of vaccines, treatment drugs, and medical products to prevent and control the pandemic.

In addition, it will make efforts to seek, approach, connect, promote, and urge foreign partners to negotiate, import, and receive vaccines, treatment drugs, and medical products. The working group will also proactively and actively verify foreign partners, information related to the ability to supply vaccines, treatment drugs, and medical products that Vietnam can import or co-produce.

How have the diplomatic corps contributed to the government’s efforts in the prevention and fighting of COVID-19?

Thoroughly grasping the foreign policy of the 13th National Party Congress, promoting the pioneering role of foreign affairs in creating and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, and mobilising external resources to develop the country and enhance the country’s status and prestige, the diplomatic sector has synchronously and comprehensively implemented external activities, and together with all levels and other sectors, it has made important contributions to socioeconomic development and the prevention of the pandemic.

Firstly, by closely monitoring the developments of the ongoing pandemic and learning the experiences of countries around the world, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has advised the government on common trends around the world, which has identified vaccines as a decisive factor to prevent the spread of the pandemic, re-open, and restore economic development.

Secondly, the diplomatic sector has taken the lead in advising the implementation of vaccine diplomacy. Accordingly, it has recommended including vaccine mobilisation in the Party and state’s external activities, especially the leaders’ meetings and phone calls with leaders of other countries and international organisations. The MoFA has directly and through overseas Vietnamese representative agencies made efforts to find and access vaccine sources, as well as actively mobilise partners to donate vaccines as well as medical equipment.

Up to now, most of the important partners and traditional friends have supported Vietnam with millions of vaccine doses and many types of medical equipment, supporting the prevention of COVID-19 in the country, especially in the provinces and cities in the south.

Next, making the most of the network of 94 Vietnamese representative agencies overseas, the diplomatic corps have actively learned from the experiences of other countries on the prevention of COVID-19 and economic recovery. On that basis, the diplomatic sector has contributed to advising the government to take appropriate measures to realise a dual goal of fighting COVID-19 and ensuring socioeconomic development flexibly and harmoniously.

Furthermore, in addition to promoting economic diplomacy for the development of people, localities, and businesses, the MoFA has been closely coordinating with other ministries and sectors to research and advise the government on measures to facilitate the travel of experts and foreign investors to Vietnam in order to maintain and develop production and business activities.

Lastly, the diplomatic sector here has closely coordinated with ministries and sectors to promote citizen protection and support overseas Vietnamese to overcome difficulties caused by the pandemic, contributing to strengthening their affection and attachment to the country and their homeland, and taking advantage of the great resources of overseas Vietnamese for pandemic prevention and fight.

Up to now, we have made 543 flights, bringing back about 136,000 citizens. Our citizens abroad have supported the people in the country with more than VND50 billion ($2.17 million) and many medical products, including more than VND11 billion ($478,000) contributed to the country’s vaccine fund.

Promoting the pioneering role of foreign affairs, the diplomatic corps continue to work with ministries and agencies at all levels and sectors, including the government’s Working Group on Vaccine Diplomacy, so as to accomplish the dual task of fighting COVID-19 and ensuring socioeconomic development.

By Thanh Dat

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