Director General of the West Africa Health Organisation, WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo says the West Africa sub-Region has received COVID-19 vaccines enough to cater for about six percent of its population.
Prof. Okolo who revealed this in Abuja at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Assembly of Health Ministers, said West African experiencing such a huge shortfall in the required volume when other regions in some continents are already administering booster does, only goes to buttress the challenge of vaccine inequity.
He however also spoke on achievements by WAHO in the past years with regards to building capacity of medical regulatory bodies and medical research institutes in member countries, as well as ground breaking records in the aspect of traditional medicine.
“As at four weeks ago, we have received about 33 million vaccine doses in our region of which we were able to administer about 76 to 80 percent. To date we have received over 58 million which on its own alone will mean that we have received vaccines for only about six percent of our population.
“When you compare this to regions in the world, which have vaccinated about 70 to 80 percent of their population and are now going onto booster doses, that shows vaccine inequity that there is.”
President Muhammadu Buhari who represented at the Session by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire emphasised the need for countries of the region to embrace the global agenda of Universal Health Coverage, UHC.
President Buhari pointed out the necessity of providing the required financial support for WAHO in order that it may realise its mandate of providing health security for citizens of the West Africa Region.
“We must embrace the global agenda of Universal Health Coverage as a critical element that requires a commitment of increased people centered investment in sustainable health development and strengthen health workforce, infrastructure, laboratory capacities within and across ECOWAS country borders to diagnose and address critical health issues not only of public health but maternal, child and adolescent health in our region.”
President of ECOWAS Commission, Brou Jean-Claude who was also present at the Session, noted that reopening of borders when the region is still battling a global health threat is a dangerous trend and called on member states to reconsider the move.
“Today this effort has been translated into concrete multiform items for support of countries – both technical and financial.
”This has been done through the distribution to member countries of substantial supply of medical, material supply and equipment; strengthening of surveillance at country level to support for capacity building of laboratories in the region; online training of nearly 3000 health workers on various topics such as infection prevention and control, risk communication, contact tracing, case management and so on.”
Vision FM reports that Mali and Equatorial Guinea were absent from the meeting following their suspension by ECOWAS.