President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the European Union to ensure vaccine equity for the benefit of the entire global population.
He said the equitable and affordable access to vaccines worldwide would help end the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am a firm believer in the statement that ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.
Let us help make vaccines available to all parts of the world, encourage our citizens to take the jab, and we would win the fight against COVID faster and together,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo made the call on Tuesday when he addressed the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
He noted that COVID-19 pandemic, which had posed the greatest test to humanity in the initial decades of the 21st century, had affected all countries, rich or small for, which reason concerted efforts were needed to combat it.
With Africa caught up in the “vicious vaccine politics that engulfed the world”, President Akufo-Addo expressed gratitude “for the donations of vaccines through platforms such as COVAX, which was good enough to send its first consignment, anywhere in the world, to Ghana.”
He pointed out that the unsavoury politics of vaccine nationalism the world was witnessing could potentially derail global efforts made at containing the pandemic.
“Till date, less than ten percent of Africa has been vaccinated, in comparison to the EU, for example, which, as at August, had vaccinated 70 percent of its population.
“With countries on the continent still not being able to have sufficient access to vaccines in the requisite numbers, we, like the World Health Organisation, are worried that the phenomenon of hoarding vaccines will worsen even further, as countries begin to administer booster shots in response to the threat posed by the omicron variant of the virus,” he stressed.
President Akufo-Addo restated the strong opposition of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which he is Chairperson, to the decision taken by countries, including those in the EU, to single out African countries for the imposition of travel bans.
He called to attention the fact that Omicron had been discovered in over forty countries, with reports indicating that that variant was present in the Netherlands before it was discovered in South Africa.
“The world should be grateful to the South African scientists, whose knowledge and expertise in genomic sequencing enabled them identify the new variant. Plaudits, not the condemnation of their peoples, should have been their portion. Why is there not a travel ban imposed on the Netherlands, but against South Africa, one might ask?”
Whilst acknowledging the importance of Africa building up her health delivery systems to enable the continent withstand future crises, he told the EU Parliament that his government had launched Agenda 111, which sought to build district hospitals in each district of Ghana where there was none, so ordinary people could have ready access to medical care.
In addition to that, he stated that Ghana had decided to set up a National Vaccine Institute, which would supervise the domestic production of vaccines across several sectors, including anti-COVID-19 ones, led by the private sector and business community.
“We need to be self-reliant, and shed the image of beggars living on charity, aid and handouts, and make better and more intelligent use of our abundant natural resources, in order to pull ourselves out of poverty to prosperity.
“These are not new aspirations; they have simply been reinforced by the lessons of the pandemic,” he said.