Mr. Peter Maurer, President of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), during his visit to the Central African Republic after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in Africa, said “This has been a devastating year for communities across Africa. People were exposed to the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed the acute weaknesses of health systems throughout the continent. People fell sick and died. Children lost time in class. Long-term development challenges, poverty, wars and violence and the increasing impact of climate change have been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19.
The second wave and virus variants underscore how precarious the situation is globally. A growing number of effective vaccines bring hope, but controlling this virus will only be possible if everyone is included in vaccination efforts because no one is safe until everyone is safe. There are three main reasons the world must ensure Africa is not forgotten. First is the humanitarian imperative. Second is the epidemiological argument: Pockets of unvaccinated people can lead to the possible emergence of virus variants. And third is the economic argument: the impacts of COVID-19 affect economies at all levels. Vaccinating vulnerable groups across the globe is significant. Once countries get more vaccines, it is crucial to also vaccinate displaced people, migrants, refugees, those in detention, and those who live in areas under non-government control. The ICRC stands ready to help with vaccine roll-outs with Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and other partners. Rolling out the vaccine to communities across Africa will be a major challenge when transportation issues, cold-chain issues, and a lack of trained health workers are considered. Though COVID-19 is a health threat, it is also an opportunity to make our efforts become more comprehensive, overcome health challenges of populations, and make all people get a fair share of vaccines.”