The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called on African countries to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to build their respective capacities in the production of vaccines and other health products.
According to him, even though Africa has not seen the worst of the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential for the continent to be on guard, since available vaccine doses are not enough.
Speaking at the UBA Africa Day Conversations 2021 on the theme: Africa to the World, the WHO boss said Africa cannot rely solely on the import of vaccines.
He said: “Although Africa has not seen the same scale of devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic as some other regions, the impact has been profound on lives, systems and economies”.
“The poor and vulnerable are most hit the hardest”, he noted.
“Africa has not escaped COVID-19 and we cannot let down our guard”, he warned.
“What’s happening now in other parts of the world can also happen in our continent. With the support of COVAX, several countries on the African continent have started vaccination, however, the volume of vaccine is nowhere near enough”, Dr Ghebreyesus said.
“So far, Africa has administered just about 25 million doses or 1.5 per cent of the global total and this is very tragic”.
“We’ve been working day in and day out to bring immediate solutions to equitable distribution for vaccines but it’s clear that Africans cannot rely solely on import of vaccines from the rest of the world”, he added.
The WHO boss said: “We must build the capacity not only for COVID-19 vaccine but for other vaccines and medical products”.
“The cooperation of public and private sectors will be essential in this effort.”
He noted that the WHO will financially support the establishment of the African Medicines Agency and to build a strong regulatory institution for Africa.