Health is first and foremost human right, Chinese & European experts say
June 11,2021   By:Xinhua
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ROME, June 11,2021 -- Chinese and European experts and officials meeting here at a seminar on human rights in pandemic stressed Tuesday that health is the first and foremost human right.
Luca Rizzo Nervo, a member of the Italian Parliament who sits on the Health Committee of the lower house, told the China-Europe Seminar on Human Rights that "it is essential that we do not waste the enormous lessons that COVID has imparted to us, especially today when we see the possibility of victory against this pandemic on the horizon."
"The first lesson," he said, "is that our health is the first and foremost right, on which all other rights depend. The right to work, to relationships and to wellbeing, derives from the capacity to guarantee people's right to be healthy."
This is why individual states and the global community as a whole must place health care at the center of their investment strategies, keeping in mind that health is the greatest asset for development, he added.
Another lesson concerns the need for prevention, and with that, the need for a global strategy on viruses with international cooperation in research and the development of therapies and vaccines, said the Italian MP.
"We must strengthen tools and measures for prevention, even more so in today's interconnected world, in which everything circulates. We have enjoyed the beauty of the circulation of people, relations, products and goods. Unfortunately, diseases and viruses also circulate. Therefore we need to reinforce a strategy of prevention," he noted.
Also speaking was Dr. Bente Mikkelsen, director of the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at the World Health Organization (WHO).
"The priority is to protect lives," Mikkelsen said. "The virus does not discriminate but its impacts do," she said, underscoring that "the divide between high- and low-income countries has been broader because of COVID," with more people dying of NCDs during the pandemic in poor countries than in richer ones.
Carlo Capria, an expert on business internationalization who spoke on "the importance of China's support and the economic recovery," said "the virus strikes everyone and there are no differences."
"As far as the aid that China has given to the world, we (Italy) have been a bit privileged. After a very difficult start, we had the possibility of understanding how to get organized to defend people's lives -- which is the greatest gift that each one of us has," Capria told Xinhua.
Prof. Enrico Toti, who teaches Chinese law at Roma Tre University, told Xinhua that he believes "the importance of conferences such as this one lies in the exchange of information and values, both Italy's and China's."
Since 1997, Toti has been traveling to China, where he carried out his doctoral research and taught at Shanghai University.
With respect to the protection of human rights during pandemics, Toti said: "No matter where you are in the world, you will have a certain degree of compression of personal liberties. This is inevitable, but this compression of individual liberties takes place in the service of collective solidarity. However it is essential that these restrictions only remain in place for a limited period of time."
He noted that one thing Italy might be able to learn from China due to the pandemic is "the speed of response of the institutions in the face of certain events."
Participating Chinese experts and officials, including Chinese Ambassador to Italy Li Junhua, talked about the humanitarian efforts China made during the pandemic, such as the distribution of 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries.
They emphasized that human life comes before anything else and that only through cooperation can the world beat a virus that knows no borders.
The seminar was organized by the Human Rights Institute of the Southwest University of Political Science and Law (SWUPL) in China's Chongqing Municipality and the Chongqing Center for Equal Social Development. It was sponsored by the China Society for Human Rights Studies and Cina in Italia (China in Italy) Magazine. 
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