Harness local resources to solve African problems: Obasanjo

Roselyne Sachiti in Okado, Edo State, NIGERIA |  1 year ago | international

Africa’s main challenge is not lack of funds or resources, but the inability to harness available resources to provide customised home-grown solutions needed to address challenges seen across the continent, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said today.

Speaking at the launch of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) Independent Task Team on Equitable and Universal Access to Vaccines and Vaccination in Africa here, Mr Obasanjo, who is also the Chairman of the CoDA Board of Directors, said many African researchers, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are constantly being drawn out of the continent to serve in other continents.

“They use their intellect to serve the needs of other continents, and most times without being duly credited or acknowledge for their intellectual investments, while our own health systems are underdeveloped,” he said.

“We need to reverse this trend and begin to take actions to harness our local resources to solve our local problems.”

Mr Obasanjo said through initiatives like the CoDA task team, Africa will be able to encourage and retain its talents and support them in finding solutions to its age-long healthcare challenges.

“The initiative we are launching today is one of those initiatives that will help Africa look inwards to identify and channel available resources to areas where they are needed,” he said.

“This initiative has the potential to positively change the vaccine and vaccination landscape across the continent and set precedence for vaccine entrepreneurship in the continent. If we carefully nurture the initiative through to maturity, we would have laid a good foundation for a healthier Africa using, largely, resources from within the continent.”

Mr Obasanjo told those in attendance that two months ago, CoDA held a dialogue involving the academics, researchers, scientists, public health experts, youth, civil society, faith leaders, and community leaders to discuss how to increase access to vaccines and vaccination in Africa.

“During that dialogue I had pledged my commitment to ensuring that recommendations from the dialogue are implemented and with speed,” he said. “I am glad to let you know that today’s launch is in fulfilment of that promise and it marks the beginning of new partnerships and collaborations that will see our continent play a lead role in vaccine development, production and distribution.”

Mr Obasanjo expressed gratitude to Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital Okada for accepting to host the initiative by providing a centre through which activities will be coordinated with CoDA.

“I salute their courage despite the uncertainty currently surrounding the issue of vaccines globally. I also thank everyone who has been involved in putting ideas to work for the take-off of the initiative,” he said.

African Union Commission Deputy Chair Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa said strengthening Africa’s health systems requires convergence of the private sector, policy makers and the community, civil society, and healthcare practitioners.

“The private sector initiative being launched today as a partnership between the CoDA, Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital, Pan African Manufacturing Association, and other partners is a wake-up call to other private universities and businesses in Africa to contribute to towards strengthening healthcare services across the continent,” she said.