Hunger in DRC-Criminal Stupidity Not to Help African Nations Manufacture Covid-19 Vaccines

(Courtesy of acted.org)

April 10, 2021

Watch my brief interview (below) on the Covid-19 crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and across Africa.

Covid-19 has worsened the already desperate condition of lack of food for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other nations in Africa. As reported below, a staggering  one third of the population of the DRC are “acutely hungry.” The DRC has the largest amount of unused arable land in the world. If developed, it could potentially feed the continent of Africa. It is the lack of development, not any objective conditions that is the cause of hunger in the DRC. 

Vaccines must be given to African nations now to inoculate their populations. However, if were are to vaccinate 1.5 billion people living in Africa, which we must, Africa will need 3 billion doses. This requires assisting African nations in building up their domestic manufacturing capability to produce the vaccine and vaccinate their populations. Anything less is shortsighted, if not criminally stupid.

Read my earlier posts:    Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19 ;  Hunger Stalks Africa: Nations Should be Food Self-Sufficient

                              

Acute Hunger Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Excepted report from EIR News.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program issued a cry of alarm yesterday, that they had found in their recently-completed review of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “staggering” scale of acute hunger. Some 27.3 million people—one in three citizens of that nation—are “acutely hungry,” with nearly 7 million of those people classified as in emergency status, one step below famine, able to survive only by such extreme strategies as selling off their last animal which provides their livelihood, or by begging.

“This makes the central African country home to the highest number of people in urgent need of food security assistance in the world,” the statement from the two agencies reports.

These figures include 3.3 million of that nation’s children who are malnourished, children who if not quickly provided with enough nutritious food may never recover from stunting of their mental and physical growth which malnutrition brings about.

WFP’s representative in the D.R. Congo, Peter Musoko, is quoted: “For the first time ever we were able to analyze the vast majority of the population, and this has helped us to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the D.R.C. This country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. We cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.”

The FAO Representative in the D.R. Congo Aristide Ongone Obame urged: “We need to urgently focus on growing food where it is needed most, and on keeping people’s sustenance-giving animals alive. The main agricultural season is around the corner and there is no time to waste.”

The two agencies drove home the human condition only reflected in these statistics: “Behind the numbers are the stories of parents deprived of access to their land, or forced to flee for their lives, watching their children fall sick for lack of food. WFP staff have met families who have returned to their village to find their home burnt to the ground and their crops entirely looted. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or only cassava leaves boiled in water.”

Never forget that such intolerable conditions are not “natural,” nor unsolvable. China’s just-released White Paper “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution” asserted, “poverty is not predestined, nor is it unconquerable…. With strong will and determination, as well as practical action, one can make steady progress towards overcoming poverty and realizing common prosperity.”

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

President Kagame is Right: Africa Must Get Covid19 Vaccinations. It is Morally and Economically Just.

People aged over 70 receive free Covid testing in Kigali, Rwanda, in January. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

February 9, 2021

The Guardian on February 7, published an insightful statement from Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, on the importance of vaccinating Africans, entitled: Until Africans get the Covid vaccinations they need, the whole world will suffer.

President Kagame correctly concludes: Ensuring equitable access to vaccines globally during a pandemic is not only a moral issue, but an economic imperative to protect the wellbeing of people everywhere. But when will Africa get the protection it needs? If all lives are equal, why isn’t access to vaccines?

I completely agree with President Kagame. It is both immoral and economically stupid not to vaccinate every human being as quickly as possible, and without cost. Let me briefly summarize.

1) Every human being is bestowed by the Creator with the power of creative reason. Thus, every human being is sacred. Society should spare no effort to preserve human life. This is a requirement of civilization. After all, we are not Malthusians, who believe the world is over populated.

2) Until the Covid19 virus is eliminated across the world, no nations or peoples are safe from the virus and its mutations. Therefore, it is criminally stupid not to vaccinate every single person on the planet as quickly as possible.

3) The global economy will also suffer, if more human beings are unable to work or die due to sickness from Covid19. Economic production and trade will shrink, lowering the physical standard of living throughout the world.

4) It is cheaper to vaccinate everyone for free than pay for exorbitant medical costs to treat patients with Covid19.

5) Let us use this horrible crisis to unite all nations in a global effort to not only eradicate this deadly virus, but upgrade the healthcare system of African nations, enabling them to properly respond to the needs of their people

Below is the full text of President Kagame’s column.

The current situation with regard to the access and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines vividly illustrates the decades-old contradictions of the world order.

Rich and powerful nations have rushed to lock up supply of multiple vaccine candidates. Worse, some are hoarding vaccines – purchasing many times more doses than they need. This leaves African and other developing countries either far behind in the vaccine queue, or not in it at all.

There are worrying signs of vaccine nationalism in Europe and North America. The pressures on political leaders to vaccinate all their citizens before sharing supplies with others is understandable. But forcing smaller or poorer countries to wait until everyone in the north has been catered for is shortsighted.

Delaying access to vaccines for citizens of developing countries is ultimately many times more costly. The pandemic will rage on, crippling the global economy. New mutations may continue to emerge at a more rapid pace. The world risks reversing decades of human development gains and eclipsing the 2030 sustainable development goals.

In this context, the billions of dollars it would cost to distribute vaccines across the developing world is not particularly high, given the return on the investment. Doing so would unlock global commerce, which would benefit all trading nations during the long road to economic recovery that lies ahead of us. We need global value chains to be fully operational again and to include everyone.

Last year, the world came together to provide additional fiscal space for developing countries through the debt service suspension initiative at the G20. This helped governments in Africa pay for their Covid responses and provide additional social protection, thereby preventing the worst outcomes. We shouldn’t lose that spirit now and give in to an unfortunate erosion of global solidarity.

The Covax facility, led by the World Health Organization, was supposed to ensure doses for 20% of Africa’s people – right from the start and at the same time as richer countries. However, nearly two months after the first vaccines have been administered, it is still not clear when African nations will be able to start immunising people, though the first doses may begin reaching the continent later this month.

What can be done in practical terms? The rich world can help developing countries get the same fair prices that they have already negotiated for themselves. One pharmaceutical firm is reportedly planning to charge $37 per dose for “small orders”. Recently, one African country reported being asked to pay more than double the price that the European Union had negotiated for the same product.

During natural disasters, price gouging for essential supplies is illegal. It should not be tolerated for vaccines during a pandemic either. If prices are fair, and Africa is allowed to place orders, many countries on the continent would be willing and able to pay for themselves. But, given the current market structure, they will need active support from more powerful countries to do so.

The African Union and Afreximbank have set up the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to help countries secure financing by providing advance commitment guarantees of up to $2bn to manufacturers. The platform has negotiated an initial order of 270m doses, but this is still very far from the 60% coverage Africa needs to achieve some measure of herd immunity, and there is no telling when those supplies will be available.

Africa is not sitting back and waiting for charity. We have learned our lessons from the past. All we ask for is transparency and fairness in vaccine access, not the protectionism currently in play.

ReadUntil Africans Get Covid Vaccinations They Need, Whole World Will Suffer

Watch my interview on RT TV from January: Africa must be vaccinated

Read my earlier postsInternational Cooperation and Collaboration Needed to Save Lives in Africa From COVID-19New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com