RIYADH: Discussions about issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic continued in Riyadh on Wednesday during day three of the 41st meeting of the Arab Ministers of Social Affairs Council.
The event, which began on Monday and continues until Thursday, brings together members of ministerial councils, UN representatives, the heads of Arab organizations, leaders of specialist health, youth and sports bodies, and other key senior officials to discuss how best to recover from the pandemic and support Arab efforts to implement a sustainable development plan.
One of the sessions on Wednesday focused on the importance of connecting with those most in need of help.
In her opening remarks, Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for social and human sciences, highlighted the particular needs of persons with disabilities, along with gender perspectives as they relate to the pandemic.
“Getting people with disabilities vaccinated is very important,” she said. “It is a priority for us at UNESCO and it is a priority to the Kingdom as well.
“Although we have adopted several measures or policies to protect people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, these people did not play an active role in most of these response actions.”
She noted that low levels of vaccination are also adversely affecting a number of other groups, including women, children who are not in school and refugees.
Ramos praised the exemplary work in the Kingdom to battle the pandemic and encouraged all people who are yet to get vaccinated to do so.
“We know how much the minister of social affairs and the whole government have been able to keep the strategy 2030 within the context of this very important disruption that we face with the economic and health crisis,” Ramos told Arab News.
She said that Saudi Arabia has been able to contain the effects of COVID-19 and has effectively rolled out vaccines, which offer the best way to avoid further damaging effects. But she reiterated the need to help those sections of the population that are harder to reach.
“There is a need to reach out to those who are vulnerable, to people with disabilities, and kids that are not in school,” Ramos said. “But I am sure that the minister Ahmed bin Suliman Al-Rajhi (the Saudi minister of human resources and social development) will be able to deal with these issues, hopefully in a comprehensive manner.”
The Arab Ministers of Social Affairs Council aims to develop cooperation in the fields of development and social welfare, supporting governmental and private-sector social programs and projects.
The meeting will conclude on Thursday with a declaration of commitment to social measures and policies designed to achieve comprehensive recovery in the Arab region and support vulnerable and fragile groups during pandemics and other crises.