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Covid-19 vaccines: Africa must counter developed countries’ ‘selfish tendency’ – Graça Machel

AFRICAN countries must ‘try to counter the selfish tendency of developed countries’ and find alternative ways to acquire Covid-19 vaccines, Mozambican social and political activist Graça Machel says.

‘We know that the more developed countries are now working furiously to acquire most doses of the vaccines proven to be effective, and are thinking about their countries, pure and simple. Africans are also organising themselves,’ Graça Machel said in an interview with Portuguese news agency Lusa .

The president of the Community Development Foundation, a Mozambican non-governmental organisation, was commenting on the initiative of current African Union president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to set up a team of 10 heads of state as a coordinating group for Africa’s response to the impact of the pandemic, including access to vaccines.

The group created by the South African president is being advised by a technical team which coordinates daily and issues opinions, and is looking into the possibility of producing vaccines in countries like India.

‘Rather than relying on northern countries to produce the vaccines, you can produce in a developing country to respond to developing countries. We will try to counter the selfish tendency of developed countries by producing equally effective responses for the African continent and the Asian continent,’ Graça Machel explained.

The social activist also spoke about the 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) published last week, which anticipates worsening problems in terms of “participation, rights and inclusion” and an impact on the level of economic development.

‘We already have evidence that the pandemic has aggravated social inequalities. How to measure this is something we still have to do, since the pandemic is not yet completely resolved,’ the former Mozambican Minister of Education said.

Preliminary data from sources such as the Afrobarometer, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and other international organisations indicate that lockdowns have resulted in the exclusion of millions of African children from education because of poor access to computers or the Internet.

Another consequence has been the exponential increase in unwanted or early pregnancies by women who have lost access to family planning programmes and preventive measures, as well as by adolescent victims of sexual abuse or forced marriage.

‘Women and adolescents bear the greatest weight of the implications of this pandemic,’ Graça Machel lamented.

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