by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – CIVIL society organisations have appealed to Southern African governments to ramp up coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination efforts to avoid a catastrophe by a third wave of the pandemic that has already killed over 70 000 people in the region.
Some 28 organisations have made this appeal through a joint petition.
They also called on high income countries and their groupings, including G20 and G7, to ensure that the intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines did not prevent poor countries from upholding the right to health.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, noted a number of countries across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc, including Namibia, South Africa and Zambia, were currently in the middle of what could be the deadliest wave yet.
“The lack of vaccines in a region with high levels of poverty and inequality means many people feel they are just waiting to die,” Muchena lamented.
“SADC and the international community must work together to accelerate the vaccine rollout and ensure as many people as possible are given lifesaving jabs.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the third wave of COVID-19 infections currently gripping Southern Africa will likely be the deadliest yet. Countries including South Africa and Namibia have been the epicentre of the pandemic in the SADC region since March 2020.
As of June 21, there have been 1 823 319 infections and 58 702 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country.
Tiseke Kasambala, regional Chief of Party at the Freedom House, criticised rich countries for hoarding vaccines and refusing to waive intellectual property rights.
“Access to COVID-19 vaccines should not be determined by where someone lives or how much they earn,” the activist.
SADC leaders met in an extraordinary summit of Heads of State and Government in Mozambique on Wednesday to discuss “regional integration, cooperation and development” amid the third wave.
– CAJ News