he East African Community (EAC) Secretary-General, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki, has called for concerted efforts towards equitable global access to vaccines and support in investment to enable the production of vaccines in developing nations.
Speaking on the sidelines of High-Level debates at the 76thUN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA, Dr. Mathuki supported the call by EAC leaders to waive intellectual property rights to allow more countries, particularly low- and middle-income countries, to produce COVID-19 vaccines.
“Intellectual property rights and export restrictions need to be lifted to allow vaccine production within the African continent. A region that is not vaccinated is a source of propagating new variants of the Covid-19 virus,” said Dr. Mathuki.
On the same day, the Secretary-General joined Tanzania´s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, as the President of Tanzania, H.E. Samia Suluhu, delivered her maiden speech at the Assembly.
“I fully support President Suluhu´s remarks that developing countries must be assisted in addressing the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 to revive economic growth. While the world discusses booster shots, access to vaccines is still posing a challenge in Africa. The principles of solidarity and cooperation in securing equitable access to Covid vaccines should be sustained,” said Dr. Mathuki.
Dr. Mathuki also reiterated the remarks by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, calling for access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
The Secretary-General also held talks with President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi who was in attendance at the meeting and made a candid speech calling for action towards security.
“I welcome the call by the President of the Republic of Burundi for an effective global strategy to annihilate terrorism which continues to threaten peace and security in the East African region,” Dr. Mathuki said.
Dr. Mathuki also hailed East African Heads of State who spoke at the Assembly, who called out for support in addressing various issues, among them peace and security, noting the importance of peace to ensure transformative prosperity.
“The East African Community hails President Uhuru Kenyatta for outrightly highlighting the impact of illicit small arms and light weapons have had in mitigating peacekeeping operations worldwide. His call,´building back betteris an anthem the region has embraced as it moves towards reviving the region´s growth trajectory, pre-pandemic times,” said the Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General also lauded the President of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame, for calling for prompt action in identifying and naming the extremist ideologies that drive terrorism, which has contributed significantly to insecurity.
The theme for the 76thUN General Assembly is ´Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations.’
Coming against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic and global insecurity, the debate has mostly underscored the need for greater urgency to end the pandemic and ensure an equitable and green recovery, as well as the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.