Olusegun Obasanjo: no communique issued after meeting in Abuja

Olusegun Obasanjo: Africa needs to harness local resources 

By Jethro Ibileke/Benin

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African leaders to begin to harness their local resources to solve the problems facing their respective countries.

He made the call on Monday during the launch of the Independent Task Team of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) on equitable and universal access to vaccines and vaccination in Africa.

The event was held in Okada, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State.

Obasanjo who was represented by Prof. Abdoulaye Bathily, from Senegal, noted that Nigeria and Africa’s problem is not lack of funds or resources, but the inability to harness them.

“I have always believed that Africa’s main challenge is not lack of funds or resources. Our main challenge is the inability to harness available resources to provide customized home-grown solutions leading to address the challenges we see across the continent.

“We need to begin to take actions to harness our local resources to solve our local problems. Through initiatives like this one, Africa will be able to encourage and retain its talent and support them in finding solutions to its age-long health challenges,” he said.

Speaking in the same vein, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, reiterated the need for a home-grown solution to address vaccine access to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and protect people from other vaccine-preventable diseases.

He noted that his government is currently implementing a wide range of healthcare reforms geared towards achieving high-quality healthcare and universal health care services for the Edo people.

According to him, “The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus pandemic across the globe, with its attendant threats to the socio-economic survival of even the most stable economies, have caused nations and leaders of the world to rethink the importance of effective measures and control of communicable diseases, of which vaccinations rank the most efficient and sustainable intervention.

“Vaccines have helped the world to deal with the various deadly diseases and potentially devastating infections and diseases that could have transformed into pandemics and spell global doom, such as polio, smallpox, meningitis, pneumonia and diarrhoea and among others. These have been eradicated or brought to substantial control with the help of vaccines.

“For the inauguration of the Independent Task Team on the Development of Vaccines and equitable, universal access to essential vaccines and vaccination in Africa, the initiative of CoDA and its partners is coming at the right time in the history of vaccines and vaccination.”

Obaseki disclosed that his government is currently implementing a wide range of healthcare reforms, which he said are geared towards achieving high-quality healthcare and universal health care services for our people.

“Consideration for equity in access to health care, commodities and technology are at the heart of our reforms, especially for the vulnerable and under-represented groups.”

“I have personally chaired the state’s COVID-19 response team, since March 2020 and we have over 62 vaccinations, teams, working in all our 18 Local Government Areas of the state. We have vaccinated over 38,000 of our citizens out of our target of 47,944,” he added.

The Governor assured that Edo State will partner with CoDA and other veritable collaborators in the task ahead, particularly that of achieving equitable access to vaccines and vaccinations in Africa.

In his contribution, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who spoke via Zoom, urged for the support of all stakeholders towards ensuring the local production of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a keynote address, former Governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, noted that Africa has the best scientists in the world, noting that some of them have been involved in the production of COVID-19 vaccines.