يهتم قسم التعليم الأساسي بمستوى خسائر التعلم التي لحقت به بسبب COVID-19
تشعر وزارة التعليم الأساسي بالقلق إزاء خسائر التعلم التي تكبدها هذا القطاع خاصة منذ أن بدأ الوباء العام الماضي.
أدى إغلاق المدارس وتعطيل التدريس والتعلم إلى عكس المكاسب التي تحققت في السنوات العشرين الماضية.
تؤدي أيام الدراسة الضائعة إلى ضياع التعلم (خسائر التعلم) – وهو ما حدث مؤخرًا من جميع أنحاء العالم حتى قبل أن يوضح الوباء ذلك بوضوح. تُظهر لنا التجارب الدولية لهذه الأنواع من الخسائر في التعلم بسبب الاضطرابات التي تسببها أشياء مثل الكوارث الطبيعية أن الأطفال المتأثرين غالبًا ما ينتهي بهم الأمر إلى الحصول على نتائج تعليمية عامة أقل وبالتالي انخفاض أرباحهم مدى الحياة نتيجة لذلك.
"لقد بدأنا الآن في قياس خسائر التعلم المرتبطة بـ COVID-19 في جنوب إفريقيا من خلال مقارنة مقدار ما تعلمه الأطفال في عام 2020 مع مقدار ما تعلموه في العام الدراسي العادي قبل ذلك. تشير هذه التدابير إلى أن ما بين 50٪ و 75٪ من المعدل الطبيعي قال الدكتور ستيفن تيلور ، مدير البحوث في قسم التعليم الأساسي ، إن قيمة التعلم على مدار العام قد ضاعت خلال عام 2020.
سيكون للتأخير في بداية العام الدراسي في عام 2021 والغياب الممتد للمتعلمين عن المدرسة تأثير سلبي طويل الأمد على المجتمع بشكل عام وليس فقط على قطاع التعليم.
قال الدكتور تايلور: "على الرغم من أن لدينا هذه المعلومات فقط لبعض الصفوف ومجالات التعلم (مثل القراءة) ، فمن المحتمل أن المتعلمين عبر الصفوف والمواد الدراسية قد تأثروا بالمثل".
خسر القطاع أسبوعًا في الإجازة المدرسية الشتوية الممتدة مما أدى إلى تقليل عدد الأيام الدراسية كما هو مقرر في البداية في التقويم المدرسي المعدل.
ومن المحتمل أيضًا أن تكون خسائر التعلم هذه أكبر في المجتمعات الفقيرة ، حيث يكون لدى الأطفال وصول أقل إلى فرص التعلم عن بعد الفعالة والدعم المنزلي.
من المحتمل أيضًا أن يكون التأثير على التعلم المبكر للأطفال الملتحقين بمراكز تنمية الطفولة المبكرة كبيرًا لأن معدلات الحضور في مراكز تنمية الطفولة المبكرة قد انخفضت أيضًا بشكل كبير منذ الوباء.
يوجد الآن دليل من مسح NIDS-CRAM على أن المزيد من الأطفال في سن المدرسة لا يذهبون إلى المدرسة أكثر من المعتاد ؛ لم يتضح بعد ما إذا كان هذا عدم حضور مؤقت أم أنه سيصبح دائمًا (تسرب).
وبافتراض أن نظام التعليم غير قادر على اللحاق بنجاح بمسارات ما قبل الجائحة ، فإنهم يتوقعون أن تكون نتائج الصف الثاني عشر أقل بمرور الوقت.
اشترك في نشرات AllAfrica الإخبارية المجانية
احصل على آخر الأخبار في إفريقيا مباشرة إلى بريدك الوارد
على المدى الطويل ، قد تؤدي خسائر التعلم في المدرسة الابتدائية إلى زيادة التسرب عندما يصل هؤلاء الأطفال إلى الصفوف 10 و 11 و 12. وفي هذه المرحلة يبدأ المتعلمون ذوو أسس التعلم الضعيفة في التسرب بأعداد أكبر. هذا يخلق حاجة ملحة لاستعادة التعلم الذي فقده.
على المدى الطويل ، قد تؤدي خسائر التعلم في المدرسة الابتدائية إلى زيادة التسرب عندما يصل هؤلاء الأطفال إلى الصفوف 10 و 11 و 12. وفي هذه المرحلة يبدأ المتعلمون ذوو أسس التعلم الضعيفة في التسرب بأعداد أكبر. هذا يخلق حاجة ملحة لاستعادة التعلم الذي فقده.
تتمثل الخطوة الأولى نحو معالجة أزمة التعلم الضائع في منع المزيد من الاضطرابات في وقت المدرسة وبالتالي منع المزيد من خسائر التعلم.
لا يزال الأطفال معرضين لخطر الإصابة بـ COVID-19 ، وقد أوجدت جهود القسم لإدخال بروتوكولات سلامة شاملة في المدارس وتطعيم المعلمين الآن إمكانية إبقاء المدارس مفتوحة والعودة إلى الحضور اليومي. الخطوة الثانية ، التي ستستغرق بعض الوقت ، ستكون تقديم تدابير لتعويض ما فقد.
تحث الإدارة جميع أصحاب المصلحة في القطاع على دعم الجهود الرامية إلى ضمان استمرار التعليم دون أي مزيد من التأخير أو الانقطاع.
Consequently, UNIDO developed a Roadmap for implementing the IDDA III anchored on six interlinked pillars namely, global forums, strategic support to develop and manage industrial policy instruments, technical cooperation, cooperation at the level of the African Union, regional economic communities and countries, partnerships and resource mobilization, and communication and advocacy.
Under the sixth pillar – communication and advocacy, the championship initiative is aimed at leveraging high-level political leadership for the promotion and visibility of the IDDA III. In this regard, the role of a champion is mainly to provide publicity and advocacy support towards the implementation of the IDDA III.
PresidentNana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is expected to play the role of a champion of the IDDA III from 2021 – 2023.
The Presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Malta, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia have previously played the role of champions of the IDDA III from 2018 – 2020.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of Ghana – Vienna, Austria.
The JSE opened several hours late on Wednesday morning, not because hackers took the system down, but because R140bn worth of trading took place on Tuesday, double the usual volume, causing an almighty backlog. This followed the rebalancing of Naspers and Prosus on a number of indices.
Despite widespread shareholder reservations, Prosus’s offer to issue new shares in exchange for Naspers shares received the requisite shareholder support and was effected on Monday.
The share swap sees Naspers owning a 57% majority stake in Prosus, down from 73.2%. In turn, Prosus has taken up 45.33% of the total issued share capital of Naspers.
Considering that these are the biggest and sixth-biggest companies on the JSE, the transaction had a massive, if momentary impact on the JSE, which only opened for continuous trading at 2.30pm on Wednesday.
The weighting of Naspers in the JSE’s Top 40 moved from 15% to 8%, while Prosus moved from 11.1% to 9.6%. Similarly, on the Swix40 (Shareholder Weighted Index) Naspers was downweighted from 23.4% to 11.9%. And on the capped Swix40 (where weightings are capped at 10% regardless of their market capitalisation to reduce concentration risk), Naspers downweighted from 9.50% to 4.9%, while Prosus was upweighted…
SADC yesterday reiterated calls for the unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and urged the world to support reforms that are underway. It commended President Mnangagwa for helping maintain peace and security in the region. This marks the third successive year for the anti-sanctions lobby after the initial declaration made at the 39th Summit of Heads of State and Government in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2019.
At the time, the regional body declared October 25 as Anti-Sanctions Day in solidarity with Zimbabwe. In a communiqué released yesterday at the end of the 41st Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government, which was held in Lilongwe, Malawi, the 16-member body said Harare’s current reforms deserved support. “Summit reiterated its call on the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on the Republic of Zimbabwe, and support (for) Zimbabwe in the ongoing socio-economic strengthening efforts,” read part of the statement. The African Union (AU) has added its voice to have the measures, which have been in place for the past 20 years, removed.
In her address on Tuesday, immediate-past Sadc executive chair, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said whenever the bloc proclaims its position in unity, just as it did during the years of struggle for liberation in Southern African countries, the world listens. Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax
Meanwhile, the summit commended regional countries, including Zimbabwe, that have pledged troops to deal with the insurgency affecting northern Mozambique. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) will contribute 304 specialist instructors to the SADC mission in Mozambique. To help coordinate efforts to monitor security threats that might possibly destabilise the region, the United Republic of Tanzania has since agreed to host the Regional Counter Terrorism Centre, which will offer dedicated and strategic advisory services to the region on terrorism threats.
As a recent member of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation responsible for maintaining peace and security in the region, Zimbabwe, together with Botswana and South Africa, helped come up with a solution to deal with terrorist attacks that have killed 2 500 people and displaced over 800 000 in Cabo Delgado.
New SADC chair, Malawian President Dr Lazarus Chakwera, yesterday thanked President Mnangagwa and his counterparts Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for their stewardship.
“Instability and insecurity are not only rare here, but are dealt with decisively through the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
“In that context, the decision made by this summit to have the United Republic of Tanzania host the Regional Counter Terrorism Centre under the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy and Action Plan is a step in the right direction. That Centre will be yet another demonstration of our resolve to give no room to terrorism and radicalism and to keep our community peaceful,” said President Chakwera.
“I must therefore commend His Excellency Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, and chairperson of the SADC Organ; His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, and Outgoing Chairperson of the SADC Organ; and His Excellency Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, for their vigilance in ensuring sustained peace and security in the region,” he said.
The Summit ended yesterday with the swearing in of Mr Elias Magosi from Botswana as the new Executive Secretary of SADC.
President Ramaphosa was elected chair of the Organ Troika, while President Hage Geingob of Namibia is the incoming chair. While the African Union Commission was criticised for unilaterally giving Israel Observer Status to the AU (which entails formally establishing ties with the continental body), SADC congratulated Zambia for successful elections. Outgoing Zambian President Edgar Lungu was commended for his contribution to the region during his tenure, including his decision to “nobly” accept the outcome of the elections.
WASHINGTON – Thursday, the United States plans to ship 35,100 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Kosovo through COVAX, the United Nations vaccine-sharing mechanism, a White House official told VOA.
The doses are part of the purchase of half-a-billion Pfizer doses secured by the Biden administration earlier this year.
Kosovo is experiencing another spike in infection largely due to the delta variant. Arben Vishaj, head of the Infectious Clinic in Pristina, told VOA on Wednesday that “98 percent of tests in his center have been diagnosed with the delta variant.”
There have been 118,709 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,281 deaths. Less than 550,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the country.
“We are grateful as a government but also as a people to the United States of America for its continued and unstinting assistance,” said Perparim Kryeziu, a Kosovo government spokesman, referring to U.S. vaccine donations.
“Our cooperation is multi-dimensional and obviously our relations are of a special type and importance. This assistance is coming at a very important moment of our battle against the pandemic, in particular against the delta variant,” said Kryeziu. “In recent weeks, Kosovo reached the highest average daily vaccination in the region. We are therefore grateful to the U.S. government for the assistance it is providing to Kosovo and for its global leadership role in combating the pandemic.”
In addition to $2 billion donated to COVAX, the Biden administration has pledged to purchase 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses and distribute them through the year to 92 low-income and lower middle-income countries that are members of COVAX and the African Union. It represents the largest purchase and donation of vaccine by a single country.
Even with its large vaccine donation program, the U.S. is being criticized for announcing its plan to provide booster shots to all Americans beginning September 20 and starting eight months after an individual’s second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines.
“The inequitable rollout of vaccines globally is not just a moral stain on wealthy nations, it’s prolonging the pandemic for the entire world. The longer it takes to share vaccines globally, the more variants we’ll see and the more booster shots we’ll need,” the ONE Campaign, which works against poverty and preventable disease, said in a statement to VOA.
So far, only 1.3% of people in poorer countries have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
President Joe Biden dismissed criticism that the U.S. is turning a blind eye to the fact that many around the world still have not received even a single dose.
“I know there’s some world leaders who say America shouldn’t get a third shot until other countries get their first shot. I disagree,” Biden said during remarks at the White House Wednesday.
“We can take care of America and help the world at the same time. In June and July America administered 50 million shots here in the United States. And we donated 100 million shots to other countries. That means that America has donated more vaccines to other countries than every other country in the world combined,” he said.
Overall Africa recorded over 244 000 new cases in the week ending on 15 August, an 11% drop from the week before and a second straight week of declining cases. However, nine out of 23 countries experiencing a resurgence are in West Africa. Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Nigeria are experiencing a surge in cases and all three countries are tackling other outbreaks.
West Africa health systems are even more fragile than those in other sub-regions. A World Health Organization (WHO) assessment of the functionality of health systems in West Africa found that they were 21% lower than in Southern Africa,
“ We are particularly concerned about West Africa and we can expect the pressure of COVID-19 to hit health services harder and faster,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “In addition to the strain of COVID-19, comes Ebola and other outbreaks. Fighting multiple outbreaks is a complex challenge.”
COVID-19 vaccines deliveries
West Africa has to date received around 29 million vaccine doses—almost the same amount as East and Southern Africa. However, the rollout has been slow, with 38% of the doses administered compared with 76% in East and Southern Africa and 95% in North Africa. West Africa has delivered 2.4 doses per 100 people. In East and Southern Africa, the figure stands at 4.8 doses per 100 people.
Vaccine shipments to Africa have picked up with the COVAX Facility delivering almost 10 million doses to Africa so far in August, that is nine times what was delivered in the same period in July. The African Union has so far delivered 1.5 million doses to nine countries. Since June, the number of doses administered per 100 people in sub-Saharan Africa has almost tripled form 1.2 per 100 people to 3.4 per 100 people.
“While COVID-19 vaccine shipments seem to be taking off, Africa is encountering headwinds. Moves by some countries globally to introduce booster shots threaten the promise of a brighter tomorrow for Africa. As some richer countries hoard vaccines, they make a mockery of vaccine equity,” said Dr Moeti.
Cote d’Ivoire declared an outbreak of Ebola on 14 August—the country’s first since 1994—in the commercial capital of Abidjan, home to nearly 5 million people. As of 18 August, there was one confirmed case and three suspected cases that later tested negative. Six high-risk contacts have been quarantined and 131 contacts listed. No deaths have been reported.
The confirmed case is currently hospitalized in Abidjan. She is a Guinean national and travelled to Cote d’Ivoire from a rural community in Guinea. Investigations are ongoing into the source of the outbreak.
WHO has deployed expert teams to Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea to support the national authorities rapidly scale up measures including infection prevention and control, diagnostics, contact tracing, case management, community mobilization and cross-border surveillance to contain the latest hemorrhagic fever outbreaks. Cote d’Ivoire has started to vaccinate contacts, contacts of contacts and health workers.
Guinea is collaborating with Cote d’Ivoire on the investigation into the outbreak. As of 18 August, 49 contacts have been listed in Guinea and health authorities are preparing to vaccinate high-risk contacts.
“These new outbreaks are a clear reminder that other health emergencies are not taking a back seat just because we are busy battling a global pandemic. We must remain alert and quick to respond so that other dangerous diseases are denied the chance to spread and cause further devastation,” said Dr Moeti.
On 9 August, Guinea detected a case of Marburg virus disease—which is in the same family as Ebola. No new cases have since been recorded. A total of 173 contacts have been identified.
The Marburg virus, the first such outbreak in West Africa, was detected in a locality in southern Guinea close to the border with Liberia and Sierra Leone. It is also the same region where cases of the 2021 Ebola outbreak in Guinea as well as the 2014–2016 West Africa outbreak were initially confirmed.
Dr Moeti spoke during a virtual press conference today facilitated by APO Group. She was joined by Hon Mr Pierre N’Gou Dimba, Cote d’Ivoire Minister of Health, Public Hygiene and Universal Health Coverage, and Hon Dr Rémy Lamah, Minister of Health, Guinea.
Also on hand to answer questions were Dr Jean-marie Vianny Yameogo, WHO Representative in Cote d’Ivoire, Dr Georges Ki-Zerbo, WHO Representative in Guinea, as well as Dr Phionah Atuhebwe, New Vaccines Introduction Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa, and Dr Gilson Paluku, Routine Immunization and New Vaccines Introduction Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.
We should abhor tokenisms. Generally, they play on people’s intelligence.
The United Nations held a pre-Summit on Food Systems from July 26 to 28, as a primer for its first Global Food Summit coming up in September. At this meeting, Jeffrey Sachs, American and popular Economist, as well as UN Special Envoy on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), made an important intervention. Many Africans were excited that Sachs called for the African Union, representing 1.4 billion people, to have a seat at a G-20 that transforms into G-21. The media focus has been on the tokenism of an AU seat, instead of many cogent issues that Sachs eloquently repeated.
I use repeated because this thought system dates from a long line of agitators for the independence of Africa and scholars such as Dr Walter Rodney in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, and more recently, Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao in many speeches and YouTube videos beyond her Africa 101: The Wake Up Call. Arikana was fired as African Union Ambassador to the United States by the African Union. Many an African, like myself, saw the termination of Arikana’s appointment as punitive. She dared to point out that colonialists never left Africa and showed how they continue to rip-off and exploit Africa.
Lucky for Arikana to have only lost her job. Walter Rodney lost his life. He was assassinated in 1980 at age 38. I am not aware that the riddle of who killed Rodney has been ever solved. However, this illustrious Guyanese lives on through his works as an unsung great African hero. The Nobel Prize will always elude the likes of Rodney. If his type had been recognised, it would have raised questions on the orthodoxy that Africa’s problems solely rests on African shoulders.
It is extremely helpful and hope-raising to have an American Economist from the U.S. articulating and showing the import of external dynamics on the continuing underdevelopment of Africa. He asked the pre-summit meeting to go into the history of why the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains in turmoil and poverty. Though Arikana articulated this theme of the West causing turmoil in Africa in order to extract resources, Jeffrey Sachs rightly noted the extractions of King Leopold of Belgium and his claim to ownership of the Congo, through to the CIA’s assassination of Patrice Lumumba and installation of Mobutu Seseseko as head of state. Further to this, Arikana has detailed the several assassinations of other visionary leaders of Africa, as well as the overthrow of others by colonialists operating under a different mode of imperialism referred to as neo-colonialism.
Jeffrey Sachs correctly pointed to Glencore’s extraction of cobalt from the DRC without responsibility or accountability to the sovereignty claims of the government of the DRC, but paying taxes at Glencore’s home country for the insurance of continuing protection, despite the progressive destabilisation of peace in the DRC – after all, weapons are not made in the DRC.
Arikana had called attention to the exploitation of Africans through loans from the world arena – especially the West, including from the Bretton Woods institutions. Of course, the U.S. led some European powers, at the end of the Second World War, to design a United Nations at the political level and the Bretton Woods institutions at the economic level, not to have tea parties but to rebuild and control the world for their interests, with the architect being the primus inter pares (first among equals). The equals at the time were limited to the United Kingdom and France. Token veto rights were granted to Kuomingtang China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), now Russia. Of course, in terms of tokenism, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, and apartheid South Africa had token presences at the foundation of the UN. They were only needed to boost the pretence of having a multilateral entity that is “united”.
The claims of Europeans to ownership of Africa were ratified by the act of the U.S. going ahead with the formation of the UN, without insisting on self-determination and the need for all territories to be free and at the table from the beginning. Why should the U.S., the primus inter pares, insist on a place at the table for Africans? It knew that the Europeans would have accused it of interference and probably called attention to the unsalutary situation of race relations in America, which had benefitted and built America on the back of black people over centuries.
For me, what is important are the billions of African people, not mere political representation by the AU Envoy at a G-21. Does having the AU envoy at the G-21 meeting go beyond the protocol of just having an African sited for the sake of formality? Would it not be a reference point for legitimising tokenism for Africans?
Just as it was in the beginning, so it remains that neither the UN Secretary-General nor the Presidents of the Bretton Woods institutions dare to intervene and call for a stop to the continuing structured rip-off and exploitation of Africans. African leaders are not exonerated either. Most of them rip-off their continent and stash away proceeds of their loot in the West, with the cover of the major powers of that sphere. In effect, there is a commonality of interests between bad African leaders and external powers, who are all ripping-off Africa.
I am not excusing most African leaders from their failures in moving Africa forward, in spite of the active efforts to assassinate any of them who showed promise in developing Africa. If some Asian leaders could be focused and wiggle through structured underdevelopment, there must be enough of eternal excuses for the failure of African leaders to ensure improved lives for their people. Bad African leaders should have recognised the thorny paths to development and avoided them by creating alternative routes.
I doff my hat to Jeffrey Sachs, even if he is more accommodative of Africa’s bad leadership. After all, African leaders cherish Westerners more. Nonetheless, I appreciate Sachs for his intervention in calling for vaccine equity, as opposed to vaccine hoarding, with respect to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Sachs noted that the U.S. alone was able to raise $7 trillion in loans – at zero interest – to fight the scourge, when Africans could not raise a penny, cent or yuan. Hence, it was possible for the West to implement lockdowns with some little human face, as opposed to what happened in Africa.
As usual, African leaders found it easier to go begging for vaccine donations through the COVAX arrangement. I must be thankful to Western taxpayers for getting two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through this modality, even if European interests now say that the AstraZeneca vaccines produced in India will not have equal rights with those made in Europe and probably America.
Of course, Africans are naïve if they think that the few doses of vaccines being received are gotten out of love. Declaring the Indian version of AstraZeneca as not measuring up for ease of passage in Europe shows the long-term preferred interest in financial flows on vaccine purchases. This material interest is separate from the fear of COVID-19 mutants that are of concern to mankind in general. The relative abandonment of Africa on the Ebola virus speaks volumes, since this virus was not as virulent outside the continent.
We should abhor tokenisms. Generally, they play on people’s intelligence. They also give false impressions, which in this case is the pretence that the interests of 1.4 billion Africans are being brought on to the table. As such, my apologies to Jeffrey Sachs for differing to his call for a stronger UN and at the same time wanting a seat for the African Union at the proposed G-21.
At the end of the Cold-War in 1990/1991, the weak countries called for a new world order in which the United Nations would be a stronger coordinator of our world for good. Boutros Boutros-Ghali got carried away and thought the call was for real. He learnt the hard way as the carpet was pulled under his feet and he became the only UN Secretary-General, so far, not elected for a second term. He over-relied on the French to save him by continuing to veto Kofi Annan, in the hope that the decision would go to the General Assembly, which would gang up against America and give him a second term. The French bargained and lifted their veto on Kofi Annan and history was made by having a black man at helms of the UN. Kofi Annan also thought he could be daring in his second term and say it truthfully as he saw it. He was almost fired. In summation, only weak countries yearn for strong multilateralism.
From antecedents, what use is an African Union’s envoy having a seat at a G-21 to join Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union? For me, not much.
Being at the table should not be because Africa has a population of 1.4 billion. Sitting at the G-21 should be based on the summation of the material net worth of the African Union in making worthwhile contributions. Slighting Nigeria, the G-20 has the token presence of South Africa in its fold. What food has the South African representation at meetings put on the table in Africa? What use would a ceremonial presence at the table be, without decision-making powers? Will the AU presence stop Western companies from continuing with the underdevelopment of Africa? Will it remove the European resistance to having Africans manufacture vaccines through their sharing of knowledge? If anything, the token presence would legitimise an erroneous perception that Jeffrey Sachs is inadvertently selling: That a multilateral G-21 would turn around and start to serve the developmental interests of Africans.
Power exists to bolster interests. Under Western competitive ideology, as opposed to the Yoruba “Omoluabi” (character plus integrity imbued with a ‘we’ sharing spirit) or Zulu “Ubuntu” (I am because you are spirit), it would be naïve to expect that granting a seat to the African Union would see to the protection of African interests. It is a joke to call for higher taxation for the 2,700 billionaires of our world to allow an African child have access to safe drinking water or reduce maternal mortality rate in Africa, not to talk of ensuring that Africans enjoy utmost freedom, which I had put as an ideal situation of enjoying the summation of all the SDGs, that Jeffrey Sachs advises the UN on.
I have no problem if the three billionaires wanting to create luxurious tastes and control space travels go to live in space and leave their billions behind with instructions to use their resources for realising the SDGs, as Sachs suggested in his intervention. But we know that the dominant ideology on earth does not support such orientation. Their respective billions would be invested for more material acquisitions, irrespective of whether they need it or not.
By the way, does our world really need a G-21 when so many UN agencies are doing their best but are deliberately underfunded, as Jeffrey Sachs rightly noted? Should the League of Arab States (LAS); the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the Organization of American States (OAS) etc., not be entitled to their respective seats at a G-24? More importantly, will Sachs suggestion not further undermine the United Nations? I am sure he and I are agreed on the need for a stronger UN, even if I know that such will never happen.
For me, Professor Sachs could be of much help to the 1.4 billion people of Africa, probably as opposed to their bad leaders, if he directs a detailed study that builds on the thoughts of Walter Rodney, Arikana etc., to unravel the mechanisms of the continued ripping-off and exploitation of Africans by private interests actively supported by their respective national governments and the Bretton Woods institutions etc. Such knowledge can help towards the implementation of policies that bolsters the SDGs by a new set of purposefully recruited African leaders.
Babafemi A. Badejo (Ph.D) is Professor of Political Science/International Relations at Chrisland University, Abeokuta, Nigeria. Email: email@example.com; +2348055331448
Until recently, the West African nation of Senegal was handling COVID-19 well. Public health measures included rapid testing, nighttime curfews, a ban on large gatherings, mandatory mask-wearing and the temporary closure of its borders. Cases remained low for the first 18 months of the pandemic, and in an assessment by Foreign Policy of 36 governments in their responses to the pandemic, it came second only to New Zealand.
But now the country — and surrounding region — is struggling to keep up with a third wave of COVID-19, fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant. Until the end of June, Senegal had registered a total of just under 44,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Since then, it has recorded more than 26,000 cases and more than 400 deaths.
Senegal’s hospitals are close to being overwhelmed. In the capital Dakar, two large care centers for critically ill COVID-19 patients, Hospital Center University De Fann and Dalal Diam hospital are full. “So the other hospitals just do with what they have,” says Nicolas Mouly, head of the Alliance for International Medical Action’s emergency response (ALIMA), which has been supporting coronavirus treatment in Senegal.
Dr. Alioune Badara Ly, director of Senegal’s Health Emergency Operations Center, who is leading the country’s public health response to COVID-19, says hospitals have added 700 more beds but capacity is still stretched. “It’s particularly during this third wave which we’ve had to face the Delta variant that Senegal has struggled and that’s because of the increased transmissibility of the variant and the increased demand on oxygen,” he said. “Senegal consumed in three months the amount of oxygen that it usually consumes in a whole year.”
It’s the same story elsewhere in the region. Across Africa, COVID-19 related deaths skyrocketed by 80% over the past month, according to the World Health Organization. Dr. Phionah Atuhebwe, WHO’s vaccine introduction officer for the African region, tells TIME that demand for medical oxygen is estimated to be 50 times higher than at the same time last year. “There is limited production capacity on the continent because of too few production plants, mainly of which are in disrepair or poorly maintained,” she says. “We have reached a breaking point.”
‘The vaccines have not arrived.’
In Senegal, experts say the increased transmissibility of new variants has powered the third wave, as well as relaxed adherence to social distancing measures during Muslim celebrations for Eid al-Adha in mid-July, known locally as Tabaski. But the crucial missing piece of the public health puzzle is vaccines. Fewer than 2% of Senegal’s 16 million people are fully vaccinated — a rate that matches that of the 1.2 billion people in the continent as a whole.
This is less to do with demand than supply, according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO. “Many African countries have prepared well to roll out vaccines, but the vaccines have not arrived,” he said at a press briefing on July 30.
After COVID-19 hit, most African countries were unable to compete with wealthy Western countries in the race to buy shots, and instead relied on the global vaccine-sharing initiative called Covax, that mainly sourced vaccines from the Serum Institute of India. However, exports halted as India looked after its own vaccination needs in curbing a deadly wave earlier this year. A flurry of new donations from Europe, China, and the U.S. have since boosted supplies. Around 91 million doses have arrived to date, though that still only covers fewer than 10% of Africa’s population.
Now, several countries across Africa are attempting to take matters into their own hands, by boosting manufacturing themselves. Currently the only coronavirus vaccine facility in Africa is South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare, which produces the Johnson & Johnson shot yet cannot control where vaccines are allocated — some 32 million doses bottled and packed in South Africa were was shipped abroad.
In Senegal, the Institut de Pasteur in Dakar is building a manufacturing plant in the hopes of starting production of COVID-19 vaccines later this year. Its goal is to produce 25 million doses per month by the end of 2022. But creating a facility — and an industry to match — from scratch is a huge challenge.
The facility received 6.75 million euros ($8 million) from European countries and institutions, and the U.S. government’s International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has also committed $3.3 million towards it. So far DFC has struck deals with India’s Biological E, South Africa’s Aspen and Senegal as part of its overall goal to help vaccine producers in poorer countries.
U.S. officials told TIME they hoped to work with more African countries to ramp up production quickly. “But we are quite a way off from finding viable deals to invest in or even from proposals for grants yet from anybody else except for the few in South Africa and Senegal,” says Jim Polan, vice president of the office of development credit at the DFC.
India’s production capabilities took decades to establish, DFC officials point out. Building a similar footprint for the African continent “takes time,” says Nafisa Jiwani, managing director for health initiatives at the DFC. “It’s been extraordinarily quick for this sort of thing,” says Polan. ”[But] we can’t create the expertise and the necessary infrastructure from scratch at the beginning — that really has to come from a sponsor,” he adds.
Creating a new industry from scratch
Belgian biotech group Univercells will deliver that technology know-how to Institut Pasteur, a deal formalized after President Macky Sall’s visit to Belgium on April 13. Under the agreement, the Institut Pasteur would use Univercells’ manufacturing technology to supply COVID-19 viral vector vaccines such as those developed by Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca to countries across West Africa. It’s thought that the total cost of the project could be $200 million.
“We can help secure the appropriate license, manage the tech transfer over to Senegal, and make sure that the facility is constructed according to the appropriate processes and protocols needed to make that vaccine,” Univercells chief investment officer Kate Antrobus, tells TIME.
The larger issue here, and a challenge for Africa as a whole, is that 99% of all medicines used on the continent are imported. The European Union has committed €1 billion towards vaccine and medicine production in Africa, in alignment with an African Union goal for up to 60% of routine vaccines to be produced within the continent by 2040. But right now the infrastructure is extremely limited; there are only 10 African manufacturers that produce vaccines against any disease. “What that also says is that there is not an enormous pool of [qualified] vaccine manufacturing staff or workforce to draw from,” Antrobus says.
Univercells says it could outsource staff to the new facility until local staff are sufficiently trained to run operations, but emphasizes that there’s a desperate need for capability building from scratch. “In Belgium, if Univercells wants to hire there are a lot of other vaccine producers and an entire economic system and university degrees based around creating that workforce. Whereas I think Senegal in particular must actually try to seed and create that new industry.”
Other challenges remain. Senegal still requires a contract from a vaccine manufacturer or patent holder such as Johnson & Johnson. Some countries including South Africa and India have pushed for the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines — a waiver that has been backed by the WHO.
But Antrobus says much more is required of patent holder than just the recipe for a vaccine. “Without the active participation of the knowledge owner — not just saying here’s my equipment, but saying I will take you step by step through how you use it — you can’t make a vaccine.”
‘We need that capacity on the ground.’
In the meantime, Senegal aims to continue to seek out vaccines through Covax as well as purchase extra doses on its own. It was one of the first African countries to kickstart its vaccination drive using Sinopharm doses bought from China, and sharing its shots with neighbors Guinea Bissau and Gambia.
“The production of vaccines in Senegal will of course happen alongside other bilateral initiatives,” says Dr. Ly. “It’s obviously important to keep vaccinating the population before 2022.”
So far Senegal has vaccinated over a million people, according to Dr. Ly. The country has learned that “organizing ourselves to be able to guarantee a quick and effective response” is very important in terms of preparing for large scale health disasters such as Ebola and COVID-19.
For WHO’s Dr. Atuhebwe, production in countries like Senegal is about future proofing the region’s response to potential new viruses. She estimates richer nations “have delivered 61 times more doses than the African continent.”
“We cannot accept or stand to be dependent again like we have been in 2021, it has really been extremely painful,” says Dr. Atuhebwe. “We need that capacity on the ground.”
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