President Cyril Ramaphosa File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa File picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Africa Day: Continent fighting for access to vaccines, economic relief

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published May 25, 2021

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The celebration of Africa Day comes amid the continent fighting with its back against the wall for access to vaccines and economic relief imposed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) - the legislative arm of the African Union (AU) - is expected to elect new leadership in Johannesburg this week.

PAP spokesperson Jeffrey Onganga said the body had been calling for more action to combat Covid-19 on the African continent.

This comes amid some criticism that the AU has been slow to create access to vaccines across Africa and fulfil its continental strategy for Covid-19.

Speaking at the PAP, Democratic Republic of Congo’s ambassador to South Africa, Bene M’poko, said not realising self-reliance was detrimental to the continent. He said Africa was highly talented and more than capable of producing its own vaccines.

Speaking on the first day of the World Health Assembly, President Cyril Ramaphosa called out richer nations for not helping poorer countries inoculate their people.

The senior researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue, Sanusha Naidu, echoed Ramaphosa’s sentiments around the disequilibrium between Africa and its Western counterparts.

Speaking to Independent Media, Naidu said Africa constantly had its back against the wall. “Africa is used to pandemics, from political to economic, social and health,” she said.

“We’re still fighting a very distressful battle to get a more sustainable public health system in Africa and, if anything, we hope that Covid-19 affecting the globe sends a strong message to the private sector that it cannot only be about profits.

’’There has to be a humanitarian aspect too and that includes Africa, who is battling malaria, Ebola, tuberculosis and poverty,” Naidu said.

A total of 2 383 new Covid-19 cases have been identified in South Africa, bringing the cumulative number of cases to 1 637 848.

The cumulative recoveries stand at 1 541 250, representing a recovery rate of 94.1%.

The total number of people vaccinated under the Sisonke Programme is 479 768. These vaccinations were with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are therefore completed vaccinations.

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