WORLD Health Organisation (WHO) says Africa has no vaccines for monkeypox and test kits are in short supply, warning that richer countries already appear to be hoarding vaccines.
Aug. 19, 2022
2 min read
No monkeypox vaccines for African countries – WHO
WHO Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti
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Monkeypox is a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions.
It is endemic in parts of Africa but has also recently been reported in countries with no history of human transmission, including Ghana, Morocco and South Africa.
According to WHO Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, what happened in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout when Africa watched on the sidelines as other countries snapped up limited supplies must not be allowed to recur.
“There are some signs that this is already happening, Monkeypox vaccines are in short supply globally and there have been no donations to countries in Africa,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Representative of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Dr Lul Pout Riek has urged the African continent to manufacture its own pharmaceuticals in order to avoid being left behind by other continents when pandemics and epidemics occur.
He said with the experience from the COVID-19 pandemic, the local manufacturing of vaccine diagnostics and therapeutics need to be taken into consideration to ensure quick access at reduced costs on the continent.
Dr Pout Riek said there were certain ingredients urgently needed for Africa to stand on its feet, adding that the continent could not solely depend on the good will of others to safeguard the health of its population.
“Other continents’ good will does not work just like in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” he said, adding that the same good will failed when the COVID 19 pandemic broke out.
“I call this an urgent matter, the time is now, Africa must stand on its feet,” he said, arguing that it was crucial to take the matter seriously.
He said Africa could have been one of the continents that fought COVID-19 timeously but its efforts were frustrated by the late delivery of vaccines.
For his part, the Minister of Health, Semano Sekatle agreed that the African continent was left behind struggling economically in attempt to recover from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Health, Delano Sekatle
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He further acknowledged that if the vaccines were produced locally, Africa would not be impacted the way it was by the pandemic.
Mr Sekatle said instead, they would be dealing with other issues and not using every resource the government had to fight the pandemic.
The lack of testing capacity has resulted in a high number of suspected cases that could not be confirmed, Mr Sekatle also said.
Globally, 31 655 monkeypox cases have been reported, according to WHO. There have been 12 deaths attributed to monkeypox, with one coming in the last week. - LeNA