Matters Arising out of COVID-19 pandemic

On the website of a British newspaper earlier this month, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda warned the U.S. and Europe of playing political economics with vaccination against COVID-19 pandemic. In a “justice delayed is justice denied” paradigm, the Rwandan strongman warned that delaying access of poorer countries to the vaccine would not only delay international trade but would stymie human development across the length and breadth of the worldHe warned that hoarding and stockpiling vaccines by developed nations at the expense of developing nations could have a backlash and ripple effect on humankind the world over. The People’s Vaccine Alliance reports that 14 percent of the world’s wealthy nations have already purchased more than half of the most potent and promising vaccines, while according to the Economist Intelligence Unit most African countries may not be able to access the vaccine until the first quarter of the year 2022.

Late last month during the virtual 2021 World Economic Forum South African President Cyril Ramaphosa accused the economic power broker nations of “vaccine nationalism.” Canada, for example is securing vaccines for thrice its population.  President Paul Kagame has called for fair market prices and accessibility of the vaccine to poorer countries. Under a WHO program, Rwanda is expected to take delivery of some one million doses of vaccines mainly manufactured by U.S. companies by the end of this month, and Uganda expects its first vaccine doses in April. Meanwhile South Africa has suspended the over one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the B.1.351 variant of the COVID-19 because of disappointing results involving a study of about 2,000 people with mild and moderate cases of the virus.

The Asia tigers have joined in the vaccine race with Guinea Conakry among the earliest African nations to acquire and administer Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 in late December of last year. China’s initiatives to Africa on COVID-19 vaccine could cement a long-lasting relationship between China and Africa. 

The African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Task Team has provisionally secured about 270 million doses and the World Health Organization’s COVAX entity has promised additional 600 million doses. But the combined doses would be woefully inadequate to serve the 1.2 billion people in Africa. The African Center for Disease Control estimates that the continent would need a minimum of 1.5 billion doses to vaccinate 60 percent of its people.

What all the aforementioned means is that time is up for Africa to sit up…and sit tight and upright… to confront global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.  It would be foolhardy and preposterous to contemplate or even assume that a developed nation or continent would sacrifice its citizens for Africa and Africans. Amandla thinks African governments should partner with quasi-government and full-fledged private conglomerates to infuse heavy capital in science and technology.

In Ghana, research facilities such as the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, a biomedical facility at the University of Ghana and the Center for Plant Medicine Research at Mampong, Akwapem could collaborate and pull their resources together for more mutual and enhanced experiments on available local medicines and herbs. Scientists and researchers from small and private traditional facilities should be encouraged with soft loans, tax incentives, and grants to carry out their own pharmacological and pharmaceutical experiments into plant and herbal medicines. While at it, we want to remind stakeholders to take aggressive steps and consult with aged traditional herbalists who may not have enough time on their side. Better document their practices now before we lose it all. African countries can pull resources together to develop vaccine more environmentally and ethnically friendly. This will go a long way to reduce the dangerous and unnecessary dependence on the West.

Amandla believes that for far too long Africa has been sitting ducks and at the receiving end to Western dictates, alms, and aid, and the West has taken advantage over it, all because of lack of economic power. U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent foreign policy pronouncement of promoting the rights of LGBTIQ in the world would materialize in the context of the economic strength of the U.S. and its allies. African countries that oppose the policy would face economic asphyxiation more so than oil-rich Middle Eastern countries that frown on the same policy. 

In retrospect, producing and manufacturing our own medicine would debase conspiracy theories about vaccines and bring to rest the perception of eugenics.  

It is said that “the wealth of a nation depends on its health” and Africa must find lasting cure for such debilitating diseases in order to make the continent wealthy, after all, it is endowed with medicinal potential.

Posted by on Feb 12 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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