Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

UN rolls out new technology initiative to help developing countries fight Covid-19

Tech Access Partnership programme will facilitate local production of essential health gear and technologies to stem the virus

The United Nations Technology Bank rolled out Tech Access Partnership (TAP) programme in an effort to strengthen developing countries’ response to Covid-19 by helping them to locally produce essential health gear and technologies.

Launched in collaboration with a number of UN agencies, such as the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, TAP will address supply shortages of vital equipment like personal protection equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers, ventilators and coronavirus testing kits, the UNTB said in a statement.

“Without access to life-saving technologies, many developing countries are unprepared for the potentially devastating impact of Covid-19,” said Joshua Setipa, managing director of UNTB.

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

Amina J Mohammed

“By enabling developing countries to produce these technologies themselves, we can help set them on the path to recovery.”

The initiative will connect global manufacturers with those in developing countries to share design specifications, data and other information needed to ramp up production of these tools locally.

Companies will also provide technical support to help developing country manufacturers troubleshoot issues as they arise.

“The partnership will support countries to develop affordable technologies and equipment that meet quality and safety standards,” the UNTB said in a statement.

“As an initial pilot, TAP will begin working with manufacturers in several developing countries around the world.”

TAP includes three key functions - product information, technical guidance and partnerships.

It will create be a digital warehouse of manufacturing and design specifications, technical knowledge and information required to increase capacity. It will also educate manufacturers on solving issues they may encounter as they seek to ramp up production, including information on market dynamics and regulatory hurdles.

“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,” said Amina J Mohammed, UN’s deputy secretary-general.

“Increasing access to necessary technologies through partnerships is a crucial component of the United Nations’ Covid-19 health, humanitarian and socio-economic response.”

In March, the UN had called for an economic stimulus package of $2.5 trillion (Dh9.18tn) to ease the economic pain of developing countries, where two-thirds of the world's population are facing hardship from the coronavirus outbreak.

The UNTB, which became operational in 2018, serves 47 least developed countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia, Uganda and Sudan.

“There is an urgent need to start filling gaps in technology to meet the health needs of our population,” Cambodian minister of science, technology and innovation Cham Prasidh said.

The South-east Asian nation faces similar challenges in its fight against Covid-19 as other developing countries - such as lack of special-purpose spare parts, specific technical know-how, experience with different technologies and funding for research and development, said Mr Prasidh.

“Greater access to these tools offered under TAP will save lives, boost our country’s responses to Covid-19 and help us prepare for future crises.”

The deadly coronavirus has infected more than 4.2 million people globally and killed over 290,000 as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the spread of the virus. More than 1.4 million people have also recovered.

Updated: May 13, 2020 03:49 PM

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