Lack of Equity in Vaccines Distribution Exposes Africa to Pandemics

Lack of Equity in Vaccines Distribution Exposes Africa to Pandemics
Lack of Equity in Vaccines Distribution Exposes Africa to Pandemics

Africa-Press – Botswana. President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi says the lack of equity in the distribution of vaccines left the African population exposed to the ruthless effects of pandemics and disease outbreaks, hence the collective target by African leaders to work towards having the continent produce at least 60 per cent of its own vaccine needs by 2040.

In his closing remarks at the Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA) programme launch, whose deliberations centered around the attainment of global vaccine sovereignty in France, Dr Masisi said it was saddening that presently only one per cent of the continent’s vaccine requirements were produced in Africa.

He said COVID-19 pandemic had made glaring the unequal access to critical human vaccines and life-saving resources, a sad development the brutality of whose impact the African population felt the most.

Expressing gratitude to the French government, the African Union and the Gavi vaccine alliance for the launch, President Masisi said it was a welcome development that AVMA would bolster sustainable vaccine production in Africa and also give impetus and support to the continent’s vaccine manufacturing aspirations.

“It is clear that Gavi stands on a crucial threshold in as far as our continental aspirations are concerned, key among which relates to overcoming immunisation gaps to ensure the vaccination target of the next one billion people. Here lies the power of vaccination to protect and transform the lives of so many of our people, through innovative solutions and collaboration,” he said.

Highlighting the crucial need for collaborative effort, President Masisi said for Gavi vaccine alliance to realise its AMVA objectives, it would had to strike effective partnerships with African nations in accelerating progress on various fronts with a view to enhance vaccine manufacturing and widen access to both existing and newly developed vaccines.

The partnerships, he said would also facilitate access to diagnostics and other medical supplies as well as expand immunisation initiatives and ensure readiness for pandemics.

President Masisi said the AMVA programme would also accelerate Africa’s efforts towards pool procurement and co-financing aimed at strengthening continental vaccine manufacturing.

“With that told, let us continue to uphold the principles of equity, inclusion and solidarity in our efforts to enhance local capacities, broaden pool procurement, access to funding and fostering sustainable partnerships towards a protected future for our people,” he said.

Highlighting Botswana’s perspective, he said the country had proactively implemented policies, programmes and ambitious targets to foster the growth of the local pharmaceutical sector.

“By enhancing our capacity and leveraging expertise of entities like the Botswana Vaccine Institute, which was initially focused on livestock vaccine production, we are gearing towards expanding our production capabilities to encompass the development of human vaccines,” he said.

In the end, President Masisi called for the world leaders to stay the course and ensure a healthier life for all.

“I urge each one of us to carry forward the momentum from this event, to stay committed to our collective goals and take bold steps towards a future where every individual, regardless of their background and circumstance has access to vaccines they need to live a healthier life and thrive”.

Pledging his country’ support for efforts aimed at achieving better global health, French president, Mr Emmanuel Macron said his country would contribute to the success of the AMVA programme by supporting the national health strategies of different countries.

Such effort, he said would translate into a successful global health strategy that would benefit all within the world’s population.

Gavi vaccine alliance CEO, Dr Sania Nishtar said access to childhood immunisation could not be overemphasised, saying a child born in a Gavi-supported country enjoyed a much higher chance of making it to their fifth birthday.

“Thanks to the power of access to vaccines, the number of childhood deaths from vaccine preventable diseases has fallen by 70 per cent since 2000. Gavi has to date vaccinated over a billion children, saving over 17 million lives,” she said.

Despite the progress so far made, Dr Nishtar said the world still had a long way to go in guaranteeing equitable global access to vaccine as millions of children continued to die due to vaccine preventable illnesses just five years away from the Sustainable Development Goals’ deadlines.

To counter the problem, she said Gavi would accelerate its response between the years 2026 and 2030 by reaching the next one billion vaccinated children.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said WHO welcomed the launch of AVMA programme and was committed to supporting the African Union to reach its target of producing 60 per cent of the continent’s vaccines by 2040.

He said they would support existence of stronger national and continental institutions including the Africa Medicines Agency and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

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