Solidarity message by African Union Champion on COVID-19 Response, President Cyril Ramaphosa, at the High-Level Breakfast Meeting of Heads of State and Government on Africa Centres for Disease Control, Addis Ababa
Your Excellency, Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
Your Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal,
Your Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda,
Your Excellency Umaro Sissoco Embalo, President of the Republic of Guinea- Bissau
Your Excellency Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone,
Director of Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Ahmed Ouma,
Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Africa continues to define its destiny through the New Public Health Order, we are filled with optimism for the future.
A future where every African citizen enjoys a birthright of good health and wellbeing.
I wish to thank the Africa CDC and the government of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia for co-hosting this event.
As the African Union Champion on COVID-19 Response, it is greatly heartening to note that health remains at the forefront of Africa’s political agenda.
Inequities in access to quality health services and products is a blight on the conscience of the world.
The onus falls on each Member State to advance the agenda of equitable healthcare for all, and to achieve Universal Health Coverage as aspired to in the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
As health emergencies increase in frequency across our continent, our progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage as well as full pandemic preparedness is being impeded.
We reaffirm our support for the Call to Action contained in the communique of the event on Africa’s New Public Health Order and Rejuvenating the Global Health Security Agenda, that took place on the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Our learnings from the pandemic must be an opportunity to build more robust health systems, so that we do not continue to be plagued by the same inequities every time we are faced with a health emergency.
The AU COVID-19 Commission is to be commended for investing heavily in Africa’s health agenda.
This panel of health experts from across the sectors, spanning the whole continent, have been exceptional advocates for the New Public Health Order, travelling the world to attract investment, and magnifying the voice of African health interlocutors.
Members have defended the amendments to the Africa CDC statutes that advocate for the Africa CDC to have the power to declare public health emergencies of regional concern.
Our focus is to continue attracting investment into Africa CDC’s growth and sustainability and to ensure a strong network of national public health institutions in every member state that supports it.
As Ministers, you have a key role to play in ensuring this ambition is elevated in our respective countries.
With regards to pharmaceutical manufacturing, you may all recall the meeting of the Bureau in May 2022 where we discussed the serious problem of our nascent manufacturing industry being unable to secure markets.
Several bold demands were made following this meeting.
Firstly, that GAVI, UNICEF and other large procurers of vaccines purchase 30 per cent of the vaccines destined for Africa from African manufacturers.
The Africa CDC, the PAVM secretariat and the AU COVID-19 Commission have done the leg work to ensure that GAVI establishes an Advance Market Commitment facility for African Manufacturers.
Secondly that Africa CDC convenes a working group on pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The working group will be convened by the Africa CDC in due course. I am told that all the Ministers from countries that are manufacturing health products or aspire to do so will have permanent membership. I encourage these Ministers to be part of this critical initiative and renew the momentum of Africa’s quest to attain biotech sovereignty.
Member states have a responsibility to support manufacturers through preferential procurement policies, working in collaboration with their respective finance ministries.
The mRNA spokes must be well supported. Financial support is key to their sustainability. For them to secure loans and other investments, we as Member states must demonstrate a strong will to prioritise African products in our procurement policies.
We continue to make very good progress in the establishment of an AU Health Workforce Task Team. This structure will co-ordinate training, deployment, and the retention of health workers on the continent.
Much of its efforts will be concentrated on supporting Member States to accommodate the growing health workforce by supporting innovative financing for retention of the health workforce.
The pillar of increasing health financing is critical, and we have not made as much progress as we had hoped to under the Abuja Declaration.
The COVID-19 Commission has been inspired by the success of the Africa Leaders Malaria Alliance and is now working on a proposal to establish an Alliance on Health Systems Strengthening.
This alliance will use a scorecard-based visibility and accountability system so that we can all support, incentivise and reward one another for innovatively increasing health spending and manifesting good health outcomes. I heartily encourage full participation when the consultation procedures get underway this year.
I will close by expressing my support for a campaign to replenish the Africa Epidemics Fund, formerly the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
South Africa stands ready to support the AU Commission in ensuring this fund will help African countries to respond to current and emerging health threats. As much as the World Bank’s Pandemic Fund has been invaluable, we must also be able to have our pandemic financing mechanism, as we did with COVID-19.
Thank you for the opportunity. I wish you successful deliberations.
Issued by: The Presidency