SEATINI Uganda, HEPS Uganda and AHF Engage Members of Parliament on a Campaign to Vaccinate the World
On 14th October 2021, SEATINI Uganda together with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including HEPS Uganda, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)/Uganda Cares engaged Members of Parliament (Parliamentary Committees on Health and Trade, Tourism and Industry) on the campaign to Vaccinate Our World (VOW) especially Africa.
The VOW call-to-action demands the following steps be taken to ensure everyone, particularly people in lower-income countries especially in Africa, have access to lifesaving vaccines:
• The global COVID-19 vaccination effort must secure $100 billion from G20 countries.
• 7 billion vaccines must be made available worldwide within one year.
• Companies and governments must waive or suspend all COVID-19 vaccine patents during the pandemic.
• Countries must be 100% transparent in sharing information and data.
• World leaders must promote far greater international cooperation as the driving force for ending the pandemic, not continue with politics as usual.
Dr. Peninnah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief: In Africa, 6.8% of the population has received its first dose; 4.57% are fully vaccinated; 76.77% of supplied dose have been administered. She also noted that the World Trade Organization impasse on TRIPS Waiver is unlikely to be resolved fast enough. This requires consensus by all countries.
Mr. Denis Kibira, Executive Director, HEPS Uganda emphasized that there is need to support COVID 19 vaccines TRIPS Waiver so that countries with capacity can state producing for the world. He also added that less than two million Ugandans have had a COVID 19 test partly because of high fees charged.
During the meeting, it was observed that in 1970, India was importing 90% of its medicine and exporting only 10% of its medicine and currently, India is exporting 90% of its medicine and importing 10% of its medicine.
Hon. Michael Bukenya, Chairperson, Parliamentary Committee on Health called on other Members of Parliament to put government to task to urgently secure vaccines using our own resources rather than waiting for donations of vaccines from European countries.
Speaking during a panel discussion as part of the meeting with Members of Parliament, Mr Africa Kiiza, Trade Policy Analyst at SEATINI Uganda reiterated that currently Africa imports over 80% of its medicine and other medicinal products. There is therefore need for Government of Uganda to support local initiatives towards developing our own medicine and COVID 19 vaccine. He further noted that Uganda has been so receptive towards Foreign Direct Investments but the country has not benefited from such investments in terms of technological transfer.
The meeting revealed that there is no framework for technology transfer and this is a prerequisite if we are to manufacture our own vaccines. Furthermore, the meeting revealed that UGX150 billion was spent on enforcing curfew and other COVID 19 containment measures in Uganda.
As a way forward, Members of Parliament committed to;
• Move a motion to support the TRIPS Waiver for vaccines, tests and COVID 19 related medical devices patents for as long as the pandemic lasts
• Begin discussions on development of technology transfer legal framework in investment and innovation
• Lobby for increased funding to procure vaccines for Ugandans, combat Vaccination hesitancy, increase local production capacities.