Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders have recommended the pooling of resources in the region for the collective procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines for member states.
This was revealed by Sadc chairman and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi yesterday in a statement on the Covid-19 pandemic, whose second wave has resulted in a spike in infections in the region.
The initiative will be led by Sadc’s Committee of Health Ministers.
President Nyusi praised the member states’ initiatives and collective and coordinated efforts in the fight against the disease since its outbreak last year. He said the approval of a number of vaccines in the past few months had brought a ray of hope and said it was necessary for the region to continue building on strategic alliances.
“In this regard, we recommend the Sadc Committee of Ministers of Health to establish a strong regional collaborative strategy which pools resources together to urgently acquire the vaccine for distribution to our citizens setting priorities in accordance with the level of risk and enhance vaccine research capabilities and develop regional manufacturing capacity for vaccines in the future,” President Nyusi said.
He said the region must intensify cooperation and collaboration between member states, through increased data sharing, policy harmonisation and standardisation, pooled procurement of essential medical and non-medical equipment to address the pandemic in a more effective way.
“We must also reinforce our health systems so that they remain ready to deliver other life-saving services and better withstand future pandemics,” said President Nyusi.
“In addition to health measures, we should continue to embark on common regional strategies, harmonised and synchronised initiatives; including electronic platforms to monitor the safe cross border movement of people, vehicles and goods, as well as implementing national action plans that address social consequences.”
The Sadc chairman attributed the increase in infections to the new coronavirus strain that has higher potential to be transmitted.
President Nyusi said the pandemic remained a major challenge in most Sadc member states.
In the first two weeks of January 2021, the total number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases stood at 346 010, accounting for 22 percent of the total number of cases registered since the beginning of the pandemic in the region.
“There is a growing concern that infections are being driven in part by a new strain of coronavirus known as 501.V2 which has so far been reported in three Sadc countries according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control,” President Nyusi said. “In fact, more than 50 percent of all new daily infections of Covid-19 on African continent have been reported in the Sadc region. Under this scenario, our health systems are rapidly reaching the limit of their capacities and the situation is expected to worsen in the short term.”
President Nyusi said the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the lives of citizens was becoming widespread and devastating, with education, employment and economic activities being severely disrupted. This, he said, had worsened poverty, with all underlying social consequences that include increase in crime and gender-based violence. President Nyusi commended member states and Sadc citizens for their sacrifices and hardships endured since the beginning of the pandemic.