The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Africa has joined immunisation experts in urging the international community and countries to take concrete actions to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, as researchers around the world race to find effective protection against the virus.
WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo made the call in a statement posted on its website.
It said WHO urged international community and countries in Africa to take concrete actions to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, as researchers around the world race to find effective protection against the virus.
The statement quoted, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying “it is clear that as the international community comes together to develop safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.
“Equity must be a central focus of these efforts.
“Too often, African countries end up at the back of the queue for new technologies, including vaccines. These life-saving products must be available to everyone, not only those who can afford to pay.”
WHO and partners launched the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to speed up the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
It brings together leaders of government, global health organisations civil society groups, businesses and philanthropies to form a plan for an equitable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO is collaborating with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to ensure a fair allocation of vaccines to all countries.
The collaboration is aimed at delivering two billion doses globally for high-risk populations, including one billion for low and middle-income countries.
According to the statement, the African Union has endorsed the need for Africa to develop a framework to actively engage in the development and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Countries can take steps now that will strengthen health systems, improve immunisation delivery, and pave the way for the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine.
“These include: mobilising financial resources; strengthening local vaccine manufacturing, and regulatory, supply and distribution systems; building workforce skills and knowledge; enhancing outreach services; and listening to community concerns to counter misinformation.’’
Meanwhile, the WHO regional office, on its official Twitter account @WHOAFRO said Africa had recorded over 520,000 confirmed cases as at July 9, 2020.
“There are over 520,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the African continent – with more than 250,000 recoveries and 12,000 deaths,’’ it said.
The regional office stated that South Africa has 224,665 cases and 3,602 deaths, followed by Nigeria with 30,249 confirmed cases and 684 deaths, while Ghana has 22,822 confirmed cases and 129 deaths.
It added that Gambia, Seychelles and Lesotho were countries currently with the lowest confirmed cases in the region as Gambia had 55 confirmed cases with three deaths.
Seychelles had 94 reported cases with no death while Lesotho had 134 reported cases and one death.