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Bangui (ICRC) – A statement from ICRC President Peter Maurer visiting the Central African Republic a year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Africa:

This was a devastating year for communities across Africa Millions were exposed to the direct and indirect social and economic effects of the pandemic, which exposed the acute weaknesses of health systems across the continent Loved ones got sick and died Children lost time in class, and millions of people have been further marginalized by economic downturns and lockdowns

Long-term development challenges, poverty, wars and violence as well as the increasing effects of climate change have been exacerbated by the effects of COVID-19 Second waves and virus variants today underline how precarious the situation is worldwide A growing number of effective vaccines brings hope, but the fight this virus will only be possible if everyone is involved in the vaccination effort

There is a moral imperative that Africa’s access to the vaccines it needs be drastically improved, but also that COVID vaccination campaigns not come at the expense of other important health problems. Vaccination programs for other diseases must continue as the rapid spread of the 501Y, the V2 variant, underscores a phrase used today: Nobody is safe until everyone is safe Given the global nature of the pandemic, fair access to your vaccine today is a crucial step towards fairer access to vaccines in general

There are three main reasons why the world must ensure that Africa is not forgotten: First, the humanitarian imperative: Every life matters, Second, the epidemiological argument: pockets of unvaccinated people can lead to virus replication and the possible occurrence of variants Lead That Vaccines Don’t Cover And third is the economic argument: the effects of COVID-19 will continue to harm the local, national and global economies Vaccinating vulnerable groups around the world makes good business sense

Once countries receive more vaccines, it is crucial that authorities give priority to displaced persons, migrants and refugees as well those in custody; and those who live in areas that are under non-state control, for example, around 70 percent of the territory of the Central African Republic is outside the control of the government.The ICRC is ready to collaborate with the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in introducing vaccines as well as helping other partners

The introduction of the vaccine to all communities in Africa will undoubtedly be a major challenge when considering transportation issues, cold chain issues and a lack of trained health workers.This is the moment to recognize that COVID-19 is an additional health threat to these communities It is also an opportunity: Our efforts must be comprehensive and respond to the general health challenges of the population And they must be inclusive If we do not listen to communities and address their priorities and life saving needs, we will meet resistance rather than achieve what we hope for

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World News – AU – One year of COVID-19: Vaccines bring hope, but Africa must be involved – World