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Notícias Internacionais / 19/07/2021


Health apartheid taking place in Africa is not an accident

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Health apartheid taking place in Africa is not an accident

Lack of vaccines on the continent is a responsibility of both the North and the Global South

The prospect of a regional improvement in the pandemic, with some Latin American countries getting closer and closer to vaccinating more than half of their population by the end of the year, opens up a stark reality: Africa was simply left out of the biggest immunization campaign of history.

Created to ensure a balanced distribution of immunizations around the world, the Covax program has not even reached the minimum target of 20% immunization coverage in African countries. Reports African Union negotiators make it clear that local governments were playing a game of marked cards: by the end of 2020, the Western powers had already reserved all the available stock of vaccines for the next 12 months.

The results of vaccine diplomacy in the global South are also a far cry the pompous propaganda campaigns. Countries such as Egypt and Morocco purchased only 33 million of the more than 700 million vaccines traded by Chinese around the world.

Contrary to Moscow's promises, the immunizing agent Sputnik V only arrived in small quantities in Algeria, Angola and Tunisia. Attempts to explain the segregation of vaccines on the African continent refer to assumptions about the pandemic that were disproved over time.

With one of the lowest age pyramids on the planet (the average age in Angola, 17, is almost half that of Brazil), most African countries started reporting fewer deaths than other regions of the world.

The supposed geographic isolation and the intense circulation of other pathologies also helped to consolidate the idea that Africa was “naturally protected”.

The myth of exceptionalism, which has characterized relations between Africa and the world since the colonial era, had two dramatic consequences: it left African countries vulnerable to the eruption of new, more aggressive variants such as delta, which is at the origin of violent third waves in Uganda , in Namibia, and in South Africa, the number of new cases has increased tenfold in the last month.

Then, the lack of vaccination coverage strengthened migratory barriers. The launch of the European digital certificate confirms that health restrictions will play a central role in international mobility. If nothing changes, citizens of African countries will continue to be excluded economic circuits indefinitely.

The way out passes through industrialization. The South African government took an important step in this direction last month by signing the first agreement for the production of immunizations on African soil with China and France. An initiative that could have been launched months ago if allies like Brazil had supported Pretoria in its numerous diplomatic attempts to democratize access to vaccines.

The health apartheid that is taking root in Africa is not a logistical accident caused by the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic or a phenomenon attributable to the underdevelopment of its countries. It is the result of the political economy of exclusion, for which the countries of the South, like those of the North, are directly responsible.

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