‘Multilateralism’ Essential in Battle Against Pandemics, Says President of Portuguese Parliament
Augusto Santos Silva, president of the Portuguese parliament
Augusto Santos Silva, president of the Portuguese parliament

The battle against pandemics can only be won through multilateralism, according to Augusto Santos Silva, president of the Portuguese parliament.

During a keynote address at the UNITE Global Summit on Tuesday, Silva stressed that “viruses and bacteria know no borders. They do not have to show passports and they are not subject to border control.

“To manage [a fast response] requires the efforts of all of us – requires multilateralism,” he said.

Silvo, a sociologist and university professor, who has served as president since 2002, told the crowd of more than 30 parliamentarians from around the world and several health officials that “the role of parliamentarians is irreplaceable.”

Silvo spoke from the center of the Senate Chamber.

He said “the COVID-19 pandemic taught us that we should be prepared for the unexpected,” including “what may come up when we least expect it and, in the form, we least expect it to happen.”

He called on governments to have deep ties with scientists and professionals in the health arena, but admitted that ultimately, they cannot run the country in the time of a health crisis. Only politicians, he said, can evaluate issues of the economy and democracy alongside health.

“There is not an expert that waves us from our moral and political responsibilities,” Silvo said.

The theme of the UNITE event, which kicked off on Monday and runs through Wednesday evening, is “from pandemic to prosperity.” He said that “I like the optimistic tone of this theme” but that parliamentarians must be attuned to the challenges that their countries face.

Healthcare, he noted, is one of the objectives of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, but “we all know that the 17 SDGs are interdependent.” Now, he said, is the time for parliamentarians to evaluate their governments’ efforts toward achieving these SDGs and to redirect them if they are off on their goals.

“We have to assess what we have achieved so far, to consolidate these achievements, and correct what has to be corrected or whatever is lagging behind,” Silvo said. “This is also work that is up to parliamentarians to do.”

The UNITE Global Summit runs from Dec. 5-7, 2022. Click here for full coverage.
Reporting for this series was supported by UNITE Parliamentarians for Global Health.

Image Credits: Maayan Hoffman.

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