EU presidency: Belgian development minister pleads for equitable vaccine distribution in Africa
"We want to reach out to Africa again," said Belgium's minister for Development Cooperation, Caroline Gennez, during a visit to Ethiopia on Tuesday. Speaking on behalf of the European Union at the headquarters of the African Union, she stressed that Belgium, as current chair of the EU Council, is committed to fostering cooperation.
During the coronavirus pandemic, African countries were at the back of the queue for vaccine distribution, and this must not happen again in the next pandemic, Gennez and EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in Addis Ababa.
"African leaders have told me that they were let down during the pandemic, when vaccine distribution came terribly late to the African continent," said Gennez. At that time, she said, it was every man for himself in the fight to get vaccines as quickly as possible. "What is changing now, and what I feel is gaining momentum, is the idea of a real partnership." This partnership should lead to better health cooperation between the EU and the AU.
"African leaders have told me that they were let down during the pandemic, when vaccine distribution came terribly late to the African continent"
"We need to produce vaccines ourselves in Africa," said AU Health Commissioner Cessouma Minata Samaté at a press conference at the African Union compound. "We need our European partners to help us do that."
"Not only Europe, but also Belgium supports this," Gennez assured, but much remains to be done to make the world a healthier place. "Training health workers, working with the African Union on regulations so that vaccines produced in Africa can also reach the market, and so on."
At the African Union's health agency, Gennez will sign a memorandum of understanding with Belgian development agency Enabel on Monday evening.
© BELGA PHOTO MAARTEN WEYNANTS
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