Dr Nchabi kamwi
In Africa, as of mid-May 2021, the number of reported Covid-19 cases has surpassed 4.6 million, with almost 125 000 deaths.
Namibia is one of the member states contributing to this data, recognising that one of the ways to end the pandemic and safeguard lives and livelihoods on the continent is to successfully immunise a critical mass of the African population.
The Covid-19 vaccine development and Access Strategy (vaccine strategy) was endorsed by Bureau of African Union Heads of State and Government on 20 August 2020.
As of 8 June 2021, 2.2 billion doses had been administered in the world. However, only 54 million doses had been obtained in Africa, of which only 32 million had been administered.
The Mastercard Foundation and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have entered into a partnership entitled “Saving Lives, Saving Economies, and Saving Schools: Partnership to Vaccinate Africa” to expand Africa’s access to vaccines, improve public health and enable economic growth and security over the next 2-3 years.
According to Dr John Nkengasong , who currently serves as the first Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the partnership will facilitate the purchase and equitable distribution of millions of vaccines across the continent, build the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) capacity to lead improvements in public health across the continent; and develop the human capital required for vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
The African Union’s goal, as set out in the African Covid-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, is to vaccinate at least 60 % of its population (780 million people, or its entire adult population) by 2022.
The Africa population is estimated at 1.3 billion. Namibia is in this population. It should be noted that 60% is a requirement for each member state, including Namibia, for protection to be realised within a population group.
It is for this reason that the Ministry of Health and Social Services is calling upon fellow Namibians to get vaccinated against this deadly virus.
By so doing, one will not only protect himself/herself, but the family, and by extension the nation at large. Ensuring Africa’s equitable access and delivery of safe and efficacious vaccines requires global action and financial support.
The partnership between the Mastercard Foundation which was represented by Ms Reeta Roy, President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation and the Africa CDC represented by Dr Nkengasong, intends to build on the tremendous progress that has been made by the African Union, AVATT, Covax, WHO, US, EU, and all funders in enabling vaccine equity. Indeed, some member states, including Namibia, had strengthened their domestic funding and purchased own vaccines. These efforts are ensuring that Africa will have access to hundreds of millions of vaccines. However, the unmet financial costs to purchase, deliver and administer vaccines - US$9 billion - US$10 billion – remain significant.
On Tuesday, 8 June 2021, Africa witnessed another milestone in the fight against Covid-19, the launch of Africa Union/Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Saving Lives, Saving Economies, and Saving Schools: Partnership to Vaccinate Africa”.
During this important event, a historic partnership was announced between Mastercard foundation and Africa CDC to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in Africa that are critical in saving lives, enabling economic recovery on the continent.
This also contributed to the adapted joint continental strategy, which calls on member states to enhance prevention, monitoring and treatment (PMT), which was endorsed at the emergency meeting of ministers of health on 8 May 2021.
The launch ceremony had the privilege of having Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Covid-19 Champion for Africa and Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and AU champion for domestic health financing. The launch was virtual.
The partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the Africa CDC is aimed at assisting member states to achieve the continental target of immunising at least 60% of the population, support vaccine manufacturing in Africa, and enhance Africa CDC’s capacity to improve public health across the continent.
Thus, it is crucial that Namibia is not left out in all these efforts.
Let us encourage our families at large to get the jab, and desist from those who are bent on misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. Let all fight together and together we'll kick Covid-19 out of Namibia and indeed out of Africa.