ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 15 JULY 2021. Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has briefed the African group permanent representatives in the diplomatic and diaspora communities on status of acquisition and roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.
The event which was held virtually brought together African Group representatives in Brussels, Geneva, New York and Washington DC as well as the Permanent Representatives and Heads of the African Union Observer Missions in the four capital cities; it was aimed at updating the diplomatic community on the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in Africa, reviewing the current opportunities and challenges as the pandemic continue to evolve and to leverage their support at the global level to narrow the existing access gap and to facilitate sustainable future development of vaccines in Africa.
In his opening remarks, the Gambian Permanent Representative to the UNOG and Chair of the African Group of Ambassadors in Geneva, H. E. Professor Muhammadou M.O. Kah noted greater effort through efficient and effective coordination is required by the African Union, through the Africa CDC, to ensure Africa’s interests are fully covered through the opportunities arising from, and the challenges faced in managing the COVID -19 Pandemic.
“This is in respect of two important discussions, stronger demand for a level playing field in the equitable distribution of vaccines and focus by the AU on improved international transportation and supply chain logistics coordination; and collaboration with the Health Coordinator and Experts of the African Group in Geneva to ensure we have appropriate language and our interest from an AU perspective is fully represented in the proposed Pandemic Treaty”, Ambassador Kah emphasized.
The need for local production of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics in AU member states, which would act as hubs for other member states within the continent has become more critical. This further highlights the fact that the key to Africa success is cooperation among member states of the AU, collaboration of relevant actors, including the state and private sector and, most significantly coordination led by an empowered Africa CDC.
The permanent representatives and Heads of missions have expressed their appreciation to recent move by western countries, specifically the United States government to donate vaccines and support patent waiver, but they are still disappointed by the wide vaccine nationalism approach being followed by vaccine producing countries. The Ambassadors further expressed their grave concern and lamented the low level of COVID-19 vaccination coverage in Africa which currently stands at about 1.15% of the total population.
Head of the AU Permanent Observer Mission to the UN, H.E. Ambassador Fatima Kyari Mohammed expressed gratitude to Africa CDC’s for its continuous commitment to gather members of the African diplomatic community and to keep them abreast of the situation regarding COVID-19 across the continent.
Ambassador Mohammed further called on members of the African diplomatic and diaspora communities to look at multi-dimensional responses to the pandemic, which also requires Africa to investigate the opportunities it has with multilateral systems to ensure that Africa is able to build on the pillars of coordination and solidarity in enhancing human welfare despite of differences.