COVID-19 Vaccination: Africa can surmount health challenges – Obasanjo

By Raphael Oni

Former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has stressed that Africa can overcome its health challenges if only the nations across the African continent began to harness available resources to provide home-grown solutions to their health challenges.Represented by Abdoulaye Bathily, former special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Central Africa, he said the African region must harness available resources to develop home-grown solutions.

Obasanjo said this at the launch of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) Independent Task Team on Equitable and Universal Access to Vaccines and Vaccination in Africa.The launch, which was held on Monday at the Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital (IUTH), Okada Town, Edo State, had in attendance medical experts, researchers and policymakers from nations across the continent of Africa.CoDA is an initiative of the Africa Union created to discuss and begin the process of vaccine development and distribution within the African continent.The former President, who is the chair of the CoDA’s board of directors, said Africa’s main challenges cannot be attributed to lack of funds or resources but the use of all within its disposal to proffer sustainable solutions. “I have always believed that Africa’s main challenge is not the lack of funds or resources.

Our main challenge is the inability to harness available resources to provide customized home-grown solutions needed to address the challenges we see across the continent.” In her remarks, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, said public health research in Africa has suffered some setbacks in the past few decades partly because of insufficient investment in research and development.Ms Nsanzabaganwa explained that the gaps between public health research, the private sector and public policy in Africa continue to widen.

This, she said, is partly because the African private sector has not shown sufficient interest in health sector research and development.“Public health research is capital intensive, but we must also realise that health business is everybody’s business, judging from our experience with the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said, adding that; “Apart from the lives lost, the private sector has been greatly affected, and that tells us that if the people are sick, businesses will also be sick.”She said the private sector is the spirit of any nation because they give direction to human and economic development.“When businesses don’t play their role of uplifting the morale and helping to raise living standards sustainably, they lose their relevance,” she said.Ms Nsanzabaganwa said it was essential for the African private sector to be involved in public health research that will help find solutions to the health problems on the continent.

She said the launch of CoDA is a wake-up call to other private universities and businesses in Africa to contribute towards strengthening healthcare services across the continent.Other members of the CoDA team are Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, Deputy Chancellor of Igbinedion University Okada, Lucky Igbinedion, Chief Medical Director of Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital (IUTH), Godwin Bazuaye and Chairman, Pan African Manufacturers Association, Mansur Ahmed.

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