All African countries’ll benefit from vaccine programme –AU

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JESUSEGUN ALAGBE

The African Union on Saturday said it was committed to ensuring that all member countries benefited from efforts to prevent and contain the COVID-19 pandemic through the vaccination programme.

The AU stated this at the ongoing 34th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly held virtually – with the theme, ‘Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.’

In a statement titled, ‘34th AU Summit strives to ensure that, as a continental body, no country is left behind in the COVID-19 responses as we enhance integration,’ the AU stated that the COVID-19 pandemic remained a severe health emergency that had caused great suffering and hardship across the African continent and globally.

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It said, “The African Union, however, is committed to ensuring [that] all its member states are part of and benefit from the continental efforts to prevent and contain the pandemic, especially with the rollout of the vaccination programme.

“The Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the opening of its 34th Ordinary Session held virtually on 6 February 2021, committed to strengthening the collective response to the crisis, marshalling resources for the benefit of all, and striving to ensure that no country is left behind.”

At the event, the outgoing AU Chairperson and President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, invited the participants to observe a minute of silence for victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He said despite the upheaval caused by the disease, “our response as a continent has been about partnership, resilience, innovation and the sharing of strategies and resources.”

Ramaphosa added, “As we prepare for the massive task of vaccinating our populations against COVID-19, we are looking to the AU and its partners to provide the assistance and support we need.”

The incoming AU Chairperson and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, applauded the ingenuity and resilience shown by African countries in the fight against the pandemic.

“Let us organise together, with our international partners, for a great offensive against these various scourges. It is imperative that our organisation can strengthen the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in order to respond effectively to emergencies and complex health challenges, as a specialised technical institution of the African Union,” he stated.

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Tshisekedi also appointed Ramaphosa as the Champion for the COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy and Acquisition by AU Member States.

The event was attended virtually by the heads of AU member countries, including Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

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