“COVID-19 is an enemy that knows no borders. There will be no final victory until every person in every country is protected,” the Mo Ibrahim Foundation warned this week.

As the global community celebrated World Health Day on 7 April, the governance organisation said that vaccine access for Africa should be treated as a “matter of global security.”

Africa is one “of the world’s most vulnerable regions” and “is home to 17% of the world’s population but accounts for just 0.5% of global vaccine distribution,” the foundation said

“Ensuring equitable and balanced access to vaccines is a matter of global security and shared interest. If the virus is not defeated everywhere, it will continue to spread and mutate,” the foundation said in a statement.

There must be “immediate and united efforts to advance vaccine equity,” said the statement signed by foundation board members, the Ibrahim Prize Committee and prize laureates. Among the signatories were former Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Festus Mogae of Botswana Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and humanitarian Graça Machel.

Creating manufacturing capability

The foundation also urged Africa to scale up its vaccine manufacturing capabilities, and partner with international organisations.

“In response to the current crisis and looking ahead to future pandemics, Africa must strengthen and upscale its own vaccine manufacturing capacities, with support from its partners,” a representative of the foundation told Health-e News. “This includes unlocking additional resources to fill Africa’s vaccine gap and build the continent’s vaccine manufacturing capacity in the long term.”

Still, the foundation acknowledged that intellectual property rights remain a barrier to sharing vaccine technology and called on the world’s pharmaceutical companies to reduce these barriers.

Additionally, the foundation also urged wealthier countries to share 5% of their vaccine supplies with less advanced countries.

The foundation was established in 2006 by British-Sudanese billionaire Mohammed “Mo” Ibrahim to promote good governance and leadership in Africa. —Health-e News