The unequal access to COVID-19 and other vaccines, the situation in the Sahel, Afghanistan, climate change, and the importance of upholding humanitarian principles were among the issues discussed.
During their meeting, Minister Franz Fayot, Director of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action Manuel Tonnar, MSF International President Dr Christos Christou and MSF Luxembourg Director General Roger Martínez Dolz cordially exchanged views on the role of the European Union on global access to vaccines.
With regard to the COVAX mechanism, the Ministry echoed the message conveyed by MSF through the global "Share the Tech – Save Lives" campaign, calling on the pharmaceutical companies BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna - developers of the two mRNA vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for COVID-19 - to urgently share mRNA technologies with potential manufacturers in African countries.
The meeting gave MSF the opportunity to draw Franz Fayot's attention to the criminalisation and difficulty of access to humanitarian aid in conflict zones such as the Sahel. "Today, the most vulnerable people in the Sahel are trapped with virtually no assistance".
There is an urgent need to increase impartial humanitarian aid, unlinked to security or stability programmes - an approach known as the Triple Nexus. Dr Christou, MSF International President.
MSF also mentioned Nigeria as an example of a country where humanitarian action is not respected as independent and impartial and is de facto subordinated to the government's counter-terrorism objectives. Discussions also focused on the current context in Afghanistan, and in particular on the catastrophic situation of the health system which is under great pressure with shortages of staff, financial resources and equipment following the withdrawal of Western donors.
Regarding MSF's involvement in global health, Dr Christou confirmed the direct and growing link between the climate emergency and the public health problem that MSF is witnessing around the world. He also highlighted the work of the Luxembourg Operational Research Unit (LuxOR) in researching the impact of the floods in South Sudan on local populations and humanitarian operations.
The interlocutors discussed the possibility of establishing a partnership to organise a conference between different international humanitarian agencies in Luxembourg next spring, around the issue of planetary health.
Despite MSF's financial independence from the institutions and Member States of the European Union following the EU-Turkey Declaration on Migration of March 2016, the humanitarian organisation confirms its role as a key player in Luxembourg civil society, where it has been developing its activities for 35 years, and maintains its willingness to engage in a fluid and fruitful dialogue with the government.