The outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the need for African countries to take a critical look at their health systems which have come under enormous pressure as well as consider home-grown solutions to vaccines.
At a two-day dialogue organized by the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), participants made the call for African countries to urgently find home-grown solutions to their healthcare challenges and particularly access to COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines.
More than 4.8 million in Africa have been infected by the COVID-19 as at June 1, 2021, according to the Africa CDC, and more than 131,000 deaths have been recorded.
Of the total 53.5 million vaccines received, 31.8 million have so far been administered, according to the Africa CDC.
In his remarks, Former President of of Nigeria and Chair of the CoDA Board of Directors, Lusegun Obasanjo who opened the dialogue, said: “Beyond COVID19, Africa needs a forward-looking roadmap for addressing the shortcomings we have witnessed in Africa’s response to the pandemic. Africa needs a more sustainable approach to addressing the challenges in accessing vaccines and other public health services during emergencies.”
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman, Board of Trustees, Afreximbank and Chairman, Board of Trustees for the African Union COVID-19 Response Fund, said: “Africa is disproportionately affected by infectious diseases, but accounts for less than 0.1 per cent of the world’s vaccine production, hence the current struggle for access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, said, “Africa’s solutions lie in Africa. As the continental organization responsible for the welfare of populations living in Africa, the African Union will do all it can to support implementation of key recommendations from this dialogue.”
While the continent has not been devasted by the pandemic as predicted at the outbreak, it also has to depend on the West for vaccines.