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UNGA 76: Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala, top politicians canvass global COVID-19 vaccine equity

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Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and top politicians joined award-winning African performers and others on Tuesday, in New York, to take part in a special event to discuss COVID-19 vaccine equity.

It was reported that the event was organised by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to discuss how COVID-19 vaccines can be fairly distributed worldwide, as a key development priority.

Under the banner of ‘A Shot for All’ staged on the margins of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, prominent leaders and personalities stressed the importance of vaccine equity and how to achieve universal access, particularly in developing countries and marginalised communities in Africa.

For the UN agency, the goal was not a luxury, but an urgent global development priority.

“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.

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 crisis.

Speakers joined the global call to expedite and prioritize vaccine equity. For them, it’s not just a way to end the pandemic, but also a way to boost the economic and social opportunities that would help developing countries, particularly in Africa, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Among the speakers, were the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, and the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong.

They agreed that multilateralism is central to ending the pandemic and they outlined solutions to ensure no one was left behind. Among the proposals, were increased manufacturing of vaccines, unblocking bottle necks in the supply chain and investing in homegrown innovations and capacities.

Speaking at the event, UNDP Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, said “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,” she added.

Award-winning Nigerian singer Patoranking and Kenyan percussionist and activist Kasiva Mutua performed at the event, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on artistes and their ability to inspire action.

Other participants included Edem Adzogenu from Afro Champions, Yvonne Mburu, CEO Nexakili and member of France’s Presidential Council for Africa, Admassu Tadesse, Director of Trade Development Bank, and Kwabena Ayirebi, Director of Banking Operations at the Africa Export-Import Bank.

Cecilia Ologunagba

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective.A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour.The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.

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