Achieving “A Shot for All” is not a luxury, but rather an urgent global development priority. Prominent leaders and personalities congregated today on the margins of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly to mobilize towards vaccine equity and highlight the urgency to find actionable solutions for speedy and universal vaccine access for all, particularly those in developing countries and marginalized communities in Africa.
Organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the event, moderated by Al Jazeera English anchor, Folly Bah Thibault, represented a call to action to governments and development partners to reconsider the production, supply, distribution, and financing of vaccines and how to redress the impact of the current COVID-19 crisis.
"Delaying vaccines in low-income countries and regions like Africa cannot be the way forward. The stakes are simply too high. Ending vaccine inequality must be seen as a global public good and development priority for all," said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
Speakers from global leaders to industry and medicine joined the global clarion call to expedite and prioritize COVID-19 vaccine equity as not just a way to end the pandemic, but to boost the economic and social opportunities that will help developing countries, particularly in Africa, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
These speakers included H.E. Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; H.E. Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization; and Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
They agreed that multilateralism is paramount to ending the pandemic, and they outlined African solutions to ensuring no one is left behind in the COVID-19 recovery like increased manufacturing of vaccines, unblocking bottle necks in the supply chain, and investing in homegrown innovations and capacities.
The audience was also treated to a performance by award-winning Nigerian singer Patoranking, and Kenyan percussionist and activist, Kasiva Mutua, who also highlighted the impact of the pandemic on artists and their ability to inspire action.
Other figures included Dr. Edem Adzogenu from Afro Champions; Dr Yvonne Mburu, CEO Nexakili and member of France’s Presidential Council for Africa; Dr Admassu Tadesse, President and CEO of Trade Development Bank; and Kwabena Ayirebi, Director of Banking Operations for the Africa Export-Import Bank.
Speakers agreed that urgent action is needed now to invest in development that saves lives, creates jobs, protects the planet, integrates technology, and leaves no one behind.
“A two-track recovery is no recovery. The world is calling for greater justice. We cannot beat the pandemic if half of the world is experiencing vaccine famine. Delaying vaccines is denying development. We will continue to do our utmost to give each African a shot at life and allow every African country to build forward smarter, stronger and more sustainably.,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa.