Africa: Call for Equal Access to Health Coverage

President Cyril Ramaphosa says a vital lesson learnt from the Coronavirus pandemic is the necessity for collective leadership, collaboration, solidarity and innovation among the countries of the world.

“As we prepare for future pandemics, we need to accelerate efforts to realise universal health coverage. We need to ensure that vaccines and other life-saving treatments are considered a public good,” President Ramaphosa said.

Addressing the Friends of Multilateralism’s roundtable on the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response on Tuesday, he said while the pandemic has highlighted the value of partnership, it has also demonstrated the damaging effects of unilateral action and unequal access to resources.

“We cannot hope to overcome this pandemic for as long as richer countries have most of the world’s supply of vaccines to the exclusion and the detriment of poorer countries,” President Ramaphosa said.

Earlier this year, the African Union resolved to support the call for a temporary TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation for COVID-19.

“Such a waiver will enable more countries to produce COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments to make them more accessible and affordable for poorer countries.

“This is about saving human lives. Not sometime in the future, but right now. We look forward to engaging further on the recommendations of the panel, which will enable all countries to strengthen pandemic preparedness,” the President said.

The panel was established in July 2020 by the World Health Organisation’s Director General.

It is charged with understanding the chronology of the pandemic, national and international actions and responses to alerts and transmission warnings, distilling lessons, and making evidence-based recommendations.