Africa Must Speak With One Voice On Covid-19 Vaccine Equity, Kagame Says

Doses of the Sinopharm vaccine against Covid-19.

President Paul Kagame on Monday, March 1, stressed the need for African countries to speak with one voice with regards to equity in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

He was speaking at the second edition of Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development. The forum was initiated under Egypt's chairmanship of the African Union, and seeks to assess and address several challenges that the African continent faces.

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was the AU chairman for the year 2019.

This year's meeting was held virtually under the theme: "Shaping Africa's New Normal: Recovering Stronger, Rebuilding Better" and brought together senior African officials and heads of governments.

In his remarks, President Kagame pointed out key things that can help Africa recover from Covid-19 negative impacts, and ensure health security.

"Creating robust continental supply chains for pharmaceutical manufacturing is essential for Africa's future health security. Africa should speak with one voice on the importance of global vaccine equity, both now and in the future," he underscored.

The call for fairness in the supply of Covid-19 vaccine follows recent remarks by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, condemning "deals between some high-income countries and manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines" that undermine the COVAX initiative by reducing the number of doses it can purchase to developing countries.

Kagame also called on African states to prioritize domestic health financing especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to improve health outcomes and resilience.

He said: "The pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of increasing domestic health financing on our continent. National health systems have been the backbone of pandemic response on our continent."

"Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) has proven its value during this pandemic. We must further strengthen Africa's CDC to ensure its autonomy and effectiveness."

He highlighted that the Africa CDC among others helped secure and distribute test kits, PPEs, collected epidemiological data and supported the collective procurement of supplies and vaccines.

He urged AU member states to support the implementation of Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which he said was the key strategy for rebuilding better from Covid-19 adverse effects.

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