The COVID-19 pandemic has had disastrous human, health and economic consequences for many developing countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the impact of the pandemic is combined with an already high prevalence of diseases such as Tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/Aids or vaccine-preventable childhood illnesses.
According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause of the biggest setback to global poverty-reduction efforts since 1990, pushing about 70 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.
Many low-income countries with fragile health systems were not ready to face such a pandemic while continuing to ensure essential health services for millions of vulnerable people. Those countries are now facing economic hardship, with major difficulties to mobilise further resources and respond to existing health needs.
“« We need to learn our lessons from the Ebola and HIV/Aids epidemics : France needs to quickly integrate health systems strengthening and support to Universal Health Coverage in its international COVID19 response. Without an integrated approach, the international community’s efforts will have little impact.»”Elise Rodriguez, Advocacy Director.
With vaccine nationalism and the predominance of northern actors in biomedical R&D, southern countries faced delays in access to COVID-19 health products (diagnostics, treatments, vaccines). As such, COVID-19 is no exception to the rule in the fight against epidemics, and reveals inequalities in terms of healthcare and rights.
This global health crisis shows once more the need for support from the most fragile countries to respond to emergencies, but also to build sustainable health systems which can face future crises. We are asking for:
- France and the EU to attach access conditionalities in terms of prices of treatments and vaccines to public financing for the pharmaceutical industry.
- COVID-19 vaccines, as a « global public good », not be bound to usual intellectual property rules: no patent, as well as transparency of R&D and production costs from the pharmaceutical industry to determine an equitable price for the vaccine.
- Official Development Assitance (ODA) committed to respond to the crisis to address health systems strengthening (HSS) in order to maintain a continuum of care in developing countries and reinforce primary and community healthcare, which, in times of crisis and despite lessons from Ebola and HIV/Aids, can be neglected.
- Additional ODA to be committed to ensure a continuum of care for services which are not linked to COVID-19.