S. Korean health minister calls for vaccine technology transfer, transparent information sharing from Japan on Fukushima water

Posted on : 2021-05-26 17:14 KST Modified on : 2021-05-26 17:14 KST
The health minister also pledged South Korea’s active support to the WHO in a keynote speech for the 74th World Health Assembly
South Korean Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-chul (Yonhap News)
South Korean Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-chul (Yonhap News)

South Korean Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-chul shared a message calling on the international community to expand vaccine production to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and scrutinize information in connection with Japan’s decision to discharge contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean.

Kwon delivered a keynote speech for the 74th World Health Assembly (WHA), which took place on the evening of May 25 via videoconference. In the speech, he pledged South Korea’s active support to the World Health Organization (WHO) and suggested ideas for overcoming the pandemic.

He proposed simplified clinical trials to speed up the development of vaccines and treatments, along with focused efforts to expand vaccine production through technology transfers and the selection of production bases.

He further urged the international community to focus its attention on the Japanese government’s decision to release contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean.

Additionally, he requested transparent sharing of information from the Japanese government about the contaminated water issue while insisting that the water should not be discharged without adequate prior agreement by other interested parties.

In a copy of the speech text distributed ahead of time, Kwon stressed the need to reorganize the global health crisis response system to prevent future pandemics.

“In particular, South Korea wishes to stress the importance of countries swiftly providing notification and sharing information about threats to public health,” he said.

“The swift detection and notification of public health crises through stronger health systems in different countries are key elements in preventing a future ‘Disease X’ from turning into a pandemic,” he added.

Kwon went on to say, “The same principle should also be applied to the matter of the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plan, which the Japanese government announced last April.”

“We would like to see the Japanese government transparently sharing information, and we wish to stress that in light of what an unprecedented situation this is, the release of contaminated nuclear power plant water into the ocean should not happen without adequate prior discussions with interested parties,” he said.

“We urge the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the rest of the international community to perform objective and adequate scrutiny,” he added.

A regular meeting of the WHO, the WHA takes place every five years. This year’s assembly began on Monday and continues until Tuesday. It is taking place by teleconference for a second straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Kim Ji-hoon, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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