Brazil's new foreign minister touts "health diplomacy" to combat COVID-19

2021-04-06 22:36:05 GMT2021-04-07 06:36:05(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BRASILIA, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Alberto Franco Franca, on Tuesday pledged to work towards "true health diplomacy" as a way to access the vaccines and medicines needed to tackle the country's critical outbreak of COVID-19.

In his first speech after taking office, Franco Franca indicated he would not let politics get in the way, saying he aimed to involve Brazil in the global effort to combat the pandemic.

At his swearing in ceremony at the presidential headquarters of Planalto Palace in the capital Brasilia, the new foreign minister said it was time to pay urgent attention to matters of healthcare, the economy and sustainable development.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro entrusted him to meet those challenges, according to Franco Franca, and "the first urgency is to fight the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Brazilian diplomatic missions and consulates abroad will increasingly participate in true health diplomacy. In different parts of the world, contacts with governments and pharmaceutical companies will be increasing to map available vaccines," he said.

"It is not an easy task. No one is unaware that today there is a shortage of medical supplies around the world. But I assure you that our diplomatic resources will continue to be mobilized to meet the demands of the health authorities," he stressed.

Franco Franca replaced former Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, who resigned last week after coming under fire from even political allies of the government, who complained that Araujo's politically-biased foreign policy was getting in the way of accessing vaccines and materials needed to fight COVID-19.

"My commitment, in short, is to commit Brazil to an intense effort of international cooperation, without exclusions, and to open new channels of diplomatic action, without preferences of this or that nature," Franco Franca said.

Brazil is experiencing its worst COVID-19 outbreaks so far, with an accumulated 13 million cases of infection as of Monday and 332,752 deaths from the disease, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Health. Enditem

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