THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have been called to heighten efforts in enhancing research and pharmaceutical capacities to enable the continent develop its own Covid-19 vaccines.
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said on Friday at the official opening of the Extra Ordinary Meeting of Ministers of Health and those responsible for HIV and AIDS that, although a number of vaccines have received approval from the World Health Organisation (WHO), the region was yet to develop its own vaccine.
"In the last few months a number of vaccines have received regulatory approvals, and prequalification by the WHO. It is nonetheless, unfortunate that, we are yet to have a vaccine or cure that has been developed within the continent.
“All the vaccines that have received regulatory approvals, and prequalification by the WHO are from non-SADC and non-African countries," Dr Tax said.
She added: "Under such circumstances, SADC and other African countries have to depend on the mercy of these countries."
Dr Tax said that Covid-19 has been one of the tests of lives, and a wake-up call for Africa, adding "as a region we must establish strong regional collaborative strategies, which pulls resources together for the enhancement of research capabilities, capacitation of our pharmaceutical sub-sector, and regional manufacturing capacity also in other sectors for our socio-economic development.”
She further noted that, while the SADC member states remain hopeful that vaccines for the continent will be delivered in the course of 2021first semester, the countries must not forget that all the public health and social measures are using foreign initiated ways of containing the pandemic.
"Our capacity to effectively control this pandemic will come from a combination of public health measures that help to slowdown the spread of the virus in the population, and prevent its spread," she said.
She explained that the current Covid-19 situation in the region calls for bold and swift actions, adding that the member states have not fully recovered from the adverse impacts of the first wave of the outbreak.
She noted the meeting provided the member states with an opportunity to assess their independent Covid-19 situation and discuss measures to enhance collaborative management of the pandemic in the region.
Mid this week President John Magufuli warned the Ministry of Health against rushing to acquire foreign vaccines for the Covid-19 pandemic without verifying their efficacy.
He noted that his government will not impose lockdown in the country, but will allow the people to continue with their daily businesses, while adhering to health personal precautions.
“Not every vaccine is beneficial to our nation, the ministry (health) should be extra careful on this issue to avoid leading the country into trouble. Tanzanians should stand firm and stop being guinea pigs for such vaccines because they may face irreparable consequences,” he said.