EU to help Africa close vaccination gap

Closing gap not only moral duty but also essential, says EU foreign policy chief

James Tasamba   | 27.10.2021
EU to help Africa close vaccination gap Health worker prepares coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine as part of the vaccination campaign for health workers and people over 65 years old at Masaka Hospital in Kigali, Rwanda on March 05, 2021.( Habimana Thierry - Anadolu Agency )

KIGALI, Rwanda

Africa and the European Union are set to work together towards closing a worrying COVID-19 vaccination gap in order to reduce transmission of the virus, foreign ministers of the two continents agreed Tuesday at a meeting in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. 

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said to respond to the pandemic, the ministers agreed on the importance of further investing in health and social protection systems in Africa as well as increasing production of and equitable access to vaccines and health technologies.

Around 5.3% of Africa’s population is fully vaccinated, well below the average of 55% to 66% in the US and Europe.

Limited financing has been cited among the challenges to massive inoculation against COVID-19 in Africa.

“We have recognized that there is a vaccination gap between Africa and Europe that has to be closed. It is of paramount importance to work quickly, because this is not only a moral duty but is also essential for everyone else to put the pandemic globally under control,” said Borrell.

“It is not only from the health point of view but also economics. Closing this vaccination gap is something in which we will have to invest much more resources.”

Borrell underlined that the current imbalance in capital and wealth is unsustainable between Europe and Africa, yet the two continents have to share common ambitions and look for solutions as friends and partners do.

“The two continents face many challenges, but at the same time, there are countless opportunities available where they have to work together. With this in mind, we must produce concrete results for our fellow citizens,” he said.

According to COVID-19 tracker, as of Oct. 21, approximately 6.9 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered globally, with an average of 24.78 million doses administered daily.

But only around 2.87% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

Countries such as Burkina Faso, Chad, Uganda, Cameroon, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have vaccinated less than 1% of their population.

Earlier, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the vice-chairwoman of the African Union Commission, urged EU member countries to avoid a policy of not accepting COVID-19 vaccine certificates from the continent, as it could lead to vaccine hesitancy.

The meeting was a buildup to the 6th European Union-African Union Summit scheduled for early next year in Brussels.

The ministers also reviewed current areas of cooperation between Africa and Europe. These include investing in people with a special focus on education, science, technology and skills development; strengthening resilience, peace, security and governance; migration and mobility; and mobilizing investments for African structural and sustainable transformation.

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