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'Africa must develop own medicines industry'

by Staff reporter
07 Feb 2021 at 06:33hrs | Views
THE elaborate, well-coordinated and effective new initiatives towards combating the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa is a demonstration of solidarity, cooperation and unity among African nations, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.

The African continent is one of the less affected across the globe with about 3.6 million cases cumulatively, 93 000 deaths and with more than 3.1 million recoveries while the world has 105 million cases, 58.6 million recoveries and 2.3 million deaths.

Speaking during the report on the African Union response on Covid-19 pandemic in Africa during the 34th Ordinary Session of the AU yesterday which was held virtually, President Mnangagwa said the solidarity, cooperation and unity among African nations could be traced to the continent's rich culture and heritage.

"I further commend the outgoing Chair of our Union, His Excellency Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa and President of the Republic of South Africa for his exemplary and sterling work in leading our continental body. His innovative and responsive approach in mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our continent is admirable.

Today our organisation boasts of elaborate well-coordinated and effective new initiatives towards combating the spread of the pandemic. This demonstrates the power of our solidarity, cooperation and unity which can be traced to our rich culture and heritage as a continent," he said.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was appreciative of the initiatives of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (Avatt) and the African Union Special Envoys to procure vaccines.

"Efforts by the private sector and other stakeholders to mobilise and set up platforms on which Member States of the Union can procure the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), diagnostic equipment and vaccines are equally commendable. We also hail the Afreximbank which will avail financial facilities to enable countries to purchase their Covid-19 contingencies.

I concur with the proposal for more robust strategies to deal with future pandemics and the need to strengthen and review statutes of the Africa CDC to enable it to fully perform its task. I equally support the call for Africa to develop our own pharmaceutical industry drawing from our rich heritage based scientific knowledge and competent scientists. Zimbabwe further supports calls for the establishment of the Africa Medicine Agency," he said.

The African Union (AU), through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (Avatt), secured 270-million vaccine doses to supply African countries, with at least 50 million doses available from April to June 2021. Avatt, a 10-member team drawn from across the continent, was established in August 2020 by President Ramaphosa to ensure that the continent secures sufficient vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity.

The vaccines will be supplied by Pfizer, AstraZeneca through independent licensee, the Serum Institute of India and Johnson & Johnson. By providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to candidate vaccine manufacturers, Afreximbank will ensure that African States are able to rapidly access Covid-19 vaccines at competitive prices and in a timely manner thereby contributing to saving lives and livelihoods.

The President also pledged support to the incoming African Union president, President Felix Tshisekedi Thsilombo from Democratic Republic of Congo. The virtual summit was held under the theme "Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want".

President Tshisekedi took over from President Ramaphosa who has concluded his term as the Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2020. In his acceptance speech President Tshisekedi said he will pursue the dreams of DRC's former President Patrice Lumumba.

"We are celebrating the 60 years of the disappearance of a worthy son of the Congo and Africa, Mr Patrice Émery Lumumba, who strongly believed in the great destiny of Africa. He did not hesitate to organise, in August 1960 in Kinshasa, then Leopoldville, the last Congress in the history of the great movement of Pan-Africanism. On June 30, 1960, shortly before his tragic death, he declared [I quote]: "Africa will write its own history and it will be in the north and south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity,' he said.

The symbols of the Union were presented physically to the incoming Chair by the African Union Commission Chairperson, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, while the flag of the African Union was handed over virtually by the South African President Ramaphosa. The AU summit is held yearly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but this year it was held virtually as part of protocols to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Source - sundaymail