Obaseki, Obasanjo, Ehanire seek home-grown solution to improve COVID-19 vaccine access

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on Monday, reiterated the need for a home-grown solution to address vaccine access to totally defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and protect people from other vaccine-preventable diseases.

They spoke during the launch of the Independent Task Team of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) on equitable and universal access to vaccines and vaccination in Africa, held in Okada, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State.

Obaseki noted that his government is currently implementing a wide range of healthcare reforms geared towards achieving high quality healthcare and universal health care services for Edo people.

According to him, “the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic across the globe, with its attendant threats to the socio-economic survival of even the most stable economies, have caused nations and leaders of the world to rethink the importance of effective measures and control of communicable diseases, of which vaccinations rank the most efficient and sustainable intervention.

“Vaccines have helped the world to deal with the various deadly diseases and potentially devastating infections and diseases that could have transformed into pandemics and spell global doom, such as polio, smallpox, meningitis, pneumonia and diarrhea and among others. These have been totally eradicated or totally brought to substantial control with the help of vaccines.”

He continued: “For the inauguration of the Independent Task Team on the Development of Vaccines and equitable, universal access to essential vaccines and vaccination in Africa, the initiative of CoDA and its partners is coming at the right time in the history of vaccines and vaccination.

“In Edo, our government is currently implementing a wide range of healthcare reforms which are geared towards achieving high-quality healthcare and universal health care services for our people.

“Consideration for equity in access to health care, commodities and technology are at the heart of our reforms, especially for the vulnerable and under-represented groups.”

“I have personally chaired the state’s COVID-19 response team, since March 2020 and we have over 62 vaccinations teams working in all our 18 Local Government Areas of the state. We have vaccinated over 38,000 of our citizens out of our target of 47,944.

“Edo will partner with CoDA and other veritable collaborators in the task ahead, particularly that of achieving equitable access to vaccines and vaccinations in Africa,” he reassured.

Delivering his welcome address, former President Obasanjo, who was represented by Prof. Abdoulaye Bathily, from Senegal, said Nigeria and Africa must begin to harness its local resources to solve their problems.

“I have always believed that Africa’s main challenge is not lack of funds or resources. Our main challenge is the inability to harness available resources to provide customized home-grown solutions leading to address the challenges we see across the continent.

“We need to begin to take actions to harness our local resources to solve our local problems. Through initiatives like this one, Africa will be able to encourage and retain its talent and support them in finding solutions to its age-long health challenges.”

In his contribution, Ehanire, who spoke via Zoom, urged for the support of all stakeholders towards ensuring the production of a COVID-19 local vaccine.

In a keynote address, former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, said Africa has the best scientists in the world, adding that some of them have been involved in the production of Covid-19 vaccines.

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