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Kagame calls for urgency in production of vaccines in Africa

President Paul Kagame has called for urgency and excellence in strengthening and building Africa’s capacity to produce high-quality medicine and vaccines.

By Collins Mwai

Kagame was speaking at the launch of a new partnership between Mastercard Foundation and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) which will among other things work to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across Africa.

As part of the partnership, Mastercard Foundation will deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years to acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people, support the delivery of vaccinations across the continent as well as laying the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa.

The support in development of vaccines will be through human capital development, and strengthen the Africa CDC.

Speaking at the launch, the Head of State said that a ‘business as usual’ attitude will not get the continent out of the current health crisis which has also had social economic effects.

“There is a long-term vision to build Africa’s capacity to produce high-quality medicines and vaccines right here on our continent. As Africa, we have to do our part with a sense of urgency and excellence. We won’t get out of this crisis with a business as usual mindset,” he said,

He added that the urgency should be reflected in increased domestic resources financing of national health care systems.

The African Union Commission and the African Union Development Agency- Nepad, he said, are at hand to assist countries adopt the priority.

Kagame welcomed Mastercard Foundation’s intervention saying that it was practical and immediate and consequently saving lives and by working with African healthcare systems, it would further strengthen them.

President Kagame is the current Chairperson of African Union Development Agency- AUDA-NEPAD and has also been involved in spearheading calls for increased domestic funding for the health sector across the continent.

Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation said that equitable access and delivery of vaccines across Africa will not only save lives but also accelerate the economic recovery of the continent.

“In the process, this initiative will catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond,” she added.

The African Union’s goal as set out in the African Covid-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy is to vaccinate at least 60 percent of its population about 750 million people by the end of 2022.

However, so far less than two percent of Africans have received at least one vaccine dose.

Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC said that inclusivity in vaccine access, and building Africa’s capacity to manufacture its own vaccines, is the only sustainable path out of the pandemic.

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