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Covid-19 vaccine should be available to all—Mohammed. By Sellina Kainja

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has reiterated the need to make Covid-19 vaccine a global public good that should be available to everyone, everywhere.

Speaking at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Seventh session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) currently underway in Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo, Mohammed said the COVAX facility is a vehicle for ensuring equitable access.

“This is a matter of justice, fairness and self-interest. No is safe until everyone is safe,” she said adding that Africa is many months if not years, away from accessing sufficient doses to achieve adequate coverage.

Mohammed added that Covid-19 has pushed many African countries into poverty and has undermined efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals. She however, was quick to point out that the current situation, provides an opportunity for African countries to leverage all of Africa’s capacity and chart the new direction with the agenda 2030 and agenda 2063 as the guiding policies.

The agenda 2030, envisions a secure world free of poverty and hunger, with full and productive employment, access to quality education and universal health coverage, the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and an end to environmental degradation.

While agenda 2063 a strategic framework for the socio- economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare who is also the outgoing chairperson of the sixth bureau of the ARFSD, Paul Mavima concurred with Mohamed’s sentiments adding that Covid-19 pandemic has uncovered deeply entrenched anomalies and inequalities within societies and has led to the slowdown in economic activities and loss of jobs in many countries.

He however, said that in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary for Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe said African countries need to strike a balance ibetween interventions in combating Covid-19 and other emergencies such as climate change.

Her sentiments were also echoed by Zimbabwe’s Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mavima, outgoing chair of the sixth bureau of the ARFSD, who said African countries must strike a balance between prioritising saving the lives of the people and responding to the compelling arguments to open up economies severely affected by Covid-19 contaiment measures.

“The pandemic has triggered a public health and economic crisis and continues to exacerbate socioeconomic challenges within our countries.

Inspite of the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is need for resilience in African countries in order to build forward better,” Mavima said.

In terms of Covid-19 vaccine rollout, Mohammed said the Covax facility is expected to deliver about 600 million vaccines doses to Africa by the end of 2021. She added that the African Union’s Covid-19 African vaccine acquisition taskforces has secured another 270 million doses to be distributed in Africa.

The aim of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development is to advance integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. The hybrid, both virtual and physical, 2021 meeting which started on Monday, 1st March and is expected to end on Thursday 4th March, is being held under the theme: Building forward better: Towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.

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