Vaccine for all

A Covid-19 vaccine should be made available for street youth in Africa

A globally accessible and affordable Covid-19 vaccine is in the interests of all humanity. It is the only way to end the pandemic for good.

Speaking to many of my close relatives, friends even the group of young people we are serving in East Africa have express scepticism about the coronavirus vaccine. The public health experts in East Africa are worried that some of the people who are sceptical of a coronavirus vaccine are those who need it the most. That includes street youth and those families living in extreme poverty, who make up a disproportionate number of people hospitalised or killed by COVID-19.

But only if vaccines are available to all people, regardless of individual being poor or wealth, these groups will continue to cast their scepticism on the vaccine and as the result the coronavirus pandemic will continue to tear communities apart for years to come.

That’s why Cheka Sana Foundation is calling for a vaccine to be made freely available to all people, in all African countries, regardless of situation i.e poverty, wealthy or privilege. 

The call for a People’s Vaccine

Cheka Sana is supporting calls for a People’s Vaccine. This means the vaccine and all treatments, diagnostics, and other technologies to tackle the pandemic must provide for equitable access and fairly distributed.

Available vaccine like doses must be distributed fairly (An allocation framework for fair and equitable access to COVID-19 health products) [i]among all countries, including Least Developed Countries (LCD) in Africa. Within individual countries, there should also be fair distribution of vaccines according to need, with care workers and medically vulnerable populations first in line and street/homelessness youth. 

Young street girl-mothers must have access to the vaccine

If Covid-19 medicines or vaccines are rationed, rather than widely available, young street girl-mothers will lose out. 

Research shows that households often prioritise the needs of male family members when essential services like healthcare and education are not affordable. Also, most governments do not prioritising streets children or young street girls-mothers when allocating essential services like healthcare and education

Health services must be properly funded

The vaccine will only be accessible to all if there are adequate health workers and infrastructure to roll it out. 

In countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya public health systems have been underfunded for a generation due to austerity policies and rigged tax rules that has allow big companies – including pharmaceutical giants who stand to make enormous profits from Covid-19 – to avoid paying their fair share. 

Tax reform and debt cancellation are urgently needed to refinance public health systems in Africa, so that everyone receives the health care and medicines they need.

NGOs and civil society monitoring is crucial

In many countries North and South, efforts to fight Covid-19 have been marred by corruption and discrimination. 

To ensure special interests don’t gain control of vaccine distribution, strong public oversight locally, nationally and globally is crucial, with an active role for NGOs and civil society organisations.

Leave no one behind

Special efforts must be made to ensure that vaccines are available to street youth, homeless, migrants and refugees.

The vaccine must be produced rapidly, at scale

A single western pharmaceutical company does not have the capacity to make enough vaccines to meet the world’s needs. 

The mass production based in Africa is needed to ensure a universal and timely vaccine requires a total shift in pharmaceutical industry practices in Africa. Western pharmaceutical companies must collaborate and share knowledge and patents with African based pharmaceutical industry. Generic production by public health systems should be encouraged where possible. 

International cooperation is crucial to develop and distribute vaccines at the huge scale needed to guarantee equitable and universal access. 

First, the G20 countries must urgently provide the missing $4.5bn needed to get vaccination efforts underway in developing countries in 2021.[ii]

To end this devastating pandemic, everyone must put the interests of humanity ahead of the interests of large corporations, big pharma or single governments. 

[i] An allocation framework for fair and equitable access to COVID-19 health products,

[ii] Covid-19 pandemic: Merkel ‘worried’ about vaccines for poor countries.

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