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World Economic Forum: Kagame Shares 5 Things To Do To Avoid The Next Pandemic

6 Min Read

Rwanda is one of the countries that are praised for having systematically and successfully confronted the Covid-19 pandemic at a time when the virus was spreading rapidly and killing thousands of people around the world.

Despite its meager resources as a low income country, Rwanda was able to mobilise sources from around the world to cater for fighting the pandemic and dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

Championed President Paul Kagame, the government and the private sector agreed of some painful but useful decisions that secured Rwanda from a disastrous outcome like it has been witnessed in other countries.

So far, more than 80% of Rwandans have been vaccinated with at least the first two jabs and more than 50% have taken the booster shot.

Kagame managed to mobilise crucial supplies of vaccines, testing materials and medical equipment in Africa, when it was needed the most. This effort has saved lives, and continues to do so.

While taking part in a panel discussion on “Preparing for the Next Pandemic” during the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, alongside Bill Gates, Peter ASands, CEO of Global Fund, Francis deSouza, CEO of Illumina, and Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Kagame outlined five key steps from lessons learnt while confronting the current pandemic, in which Africa can avoid the next pandemic.

First, he said, “We have to act as if there is going to be a pandemic sooner or later. We have to have the capacity to test, treat, and administer vaccines. We have to avoid to always be dependent on others for things that our lives depend on.”

He added that, there must be preparedness so that, “we prevent it or stop it from spreading.” And that lessons learned indicate that from the African perspective, there must efforts to deal with capacity issues.

Secondly, there is need to begin manufacturing of vaccines in different parts of the continent. Last year, a German firm, BioNTech SE announced plans to construct a manufacturing plant for mRNA-based vaccines in Africa in mid-2022. This is the next step in BioNTech’s efforts to implement sustainable end-to-end vaccine supply solutions on the continent.

Rwanda has already signed a collaboration agreement with the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) that will see developments in the vaccine manufacturing capacity and contribute to expanding vaccine production in Africa.

In parallel, the Republic of Rwanda and the Institut Pasteur de Dakar have committed themselves to scale-up fill and finish capacities to complete the local end-to-end manufacturing process.

In addition, BioNTech is in discussions about an expansion of the current partnership with Cape Town-based vaccine manufacturer Biovac, which is part of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing network.

Thirdly, working together. Kagame said that, “preferably”, working together and “pulling resources” would yield meaningful results in the battle against pandemics. He gave an example of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, a public health agency of the African Union to support the public health initiatives of member states and strengthen the capacity of their health institutions to deal with disease threats. By building the capacity of such institutions so that they can help countries to address health challenges.

Fourth is, “I should say, we need to focus.” “There is a lot in science, research and technology that we should be able to tap into to deal with these crises.” Indeed, part of the partnerships being discussed with various global firms include sharing of expertise with local teams to ensure they utilise available resources, skills and knowledge to build formidable energies against pandemics of all forms.

Lastly, investment. Kagame believes that appropriate and adequate investments are a solid solution to the challenges countries face when it comes to abilities in dealing with problems. He said that “investments in individual countries or continental,” is a tangible approach, “and that is what we have been trying to do.”

For Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who has participated in producing reports to guide policy and response on pandemics, insisted that these are hard times that require certain “political resolve”, because popular support to fight covid-19 is “waning.”

“People are still dying every day,” she said, adding, that low income countries are even “horribly” hit. Thus, she said, there is need for deliberate “political declarations” and ensure there is convergence and collective actions against pandemics.

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