“We are more connected on the planet than we thought, we are more vulnerable than we thought and the inequalities existing between us are greater than we thought. We should not let inequities in the distribution of vaccines exacerbate the inequalities we see already.”– Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC
At the first African-led dialogue to be held in the COVID-19 era, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, Chief Strategist, CONVINCE Africa and Co-Chair of the AU African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, chaired a high-level meeting of key global players to strategize and shape vaccination solutions with African leaders.
During the event, convened by CONVINCE Africa and Wilton Park on March 4th, Ministers of Finance and Health came together with leaders from multilateral institutions and the donor community to take a whole-of-Africa approach to financing equitable access, delivery and uptake for COVID-19 vaccines. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered opening remarks which set the stage for a frank and, at times, passionate discussion.
Dr. Alakija was interviewed by CNN after the event. During her comments, she emphasized that “The vaccine equity issue means that if we have mutants and variants growing in different countries around the world… we’re in a race against time, we’re in a race against a virus, and there is no way we can win this race unless we have equity, unless everybody has a chance to get a vaccine.”
Lesley-Anne Long, President & CEO of GBCHealth, and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Co-Chair of GBCHealth, attended the meeting, which also saw the launch of CONVINCE Africa. GBCHealth is part of CONVINCE, a global multi-sector coalition committed to improving vaccine confidence to achieve population-wide immunity and help end the COVID-19 pandemic. Co-founded by Wilton Park, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and CUNY School of Public Health, CONVINCE partners also include WHO, Gavi, UNICEF, and the Health Action Alliance.