Africa must invest in healthcare research and technologies – Discussants

Africans Rising
Africans Rising

Discussants at a webinar, organized under the auspices of Africans Rising, a Pan-African movement, have asked leaders on the continent to maximize investment in healthcare research and technologies.

This was necessary to build the capacity of the continent in dealing with emerging health challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as strengthening the healthcare systems.

According to the participants, funding for health research in Africa was critically lacking, raising concerns about the low level of support for research and development in health and pathogenic diseases.

This, the participants and panelists believed, accounted for the continent’s inability to produce vaccines for most diseases afflicting the people despite having some of the most brilliant, experienced, and hardworking scientists across the world.

A statement issued by Africans Rising, and signed by Ms. Ann Njagi, the Media Outreach Consultant, copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi, said the webinar (virtual seminar) aimed at providing a platform for dialogue among citizens of Africa on their experiences, challenges, coping strategies and lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It brought together people from varied fields of endeavour, including civil society organizations (CSOs), to dialogue with experts, researchers, and people experienced in policymaking.

The objective was to make it possible for in-depth conversations regarding the management of the pandemic in Africa, access to vaccines in general, and in particular, ongoing efforts to produce vaccines locally.

The participants and panelists reasoned that a vaccine produced in Africa by Africans would be more acceptable to the African people.

The statement said studies had shown that part of the hesitance and resistance towards the COVID-19 vaccines by most people on the continent, was due to mistrust of some of the origins of such vaccines.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), just five African countries, less than 10 percent of Africa’s 54 nations, were projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40 per cent of their people, unless efforts to accelerate the pace take off.

This comes as the region grapples to meet the rising demand for essential vaccination commodities, such as syringes.

Three African countries, Seychelles, Mauritius, and Morocco, have already met the goal set by the World Health Assembly, the world’s highest health policy-setting body.

Africa still faces a 275 million shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines against the year-end target, the WHO noted, stressing that the continent had fully vaccinated 77 million people, just six per cent of its population.

In comparison, over 70 per cent of high-income countries have already vaccinated more than 40 per cent of their people.

The statement said there was a consensus that the management of the COVID-19 pandemic had been sub-par in Africa.

“Lack of transparency, unsustainable debt accumulation, lack of support for local scientists, inadequate strengthening of health systems, inability to develop vaccines and equipment, amongst others, were cited as reasons for this conclusion,” according to the statement.

It assured that Africans Rising, through the ‘#Rise4OurLives’ campaign, would continue to push for better management of healthcare in general and the COVID-19 pandemic in particular.

In pursuance of this, the webinars would form the basis for a COVID-19 accountability forum to be made up of activists, movements, CSOs, and individuals to demand accountability in the management of the COVID pandemic.

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