21 June 2021
Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom
Your Excellency President Emmanuel Macron of France, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the full extent of the vaccine gap between developed and developing economies, and how that gap can severely undermine global health security.
Today marks an important milestone towards the achievement of one of the critical objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063: the Africa we want.
The ability to manufacture vaccines, medicines and other health-related commodities will help to put Africa on a path to self-determination.
Through this initiative and others, we will change the narrative of an Africa that is a centre of disease and poor development.
We will create a narrative that celebrates our successes in reducing the burden of disease and in advancing self-reliance and sustainable development.
This will enhance our capacity to take responsibility for the health of our people.
We will be better able to plan for the entire value chain, from training a critical mass of young people, enhancing and maintaining our supply chain and ensuring the efficient use of medicines.
As South Africa, we intend to pursue these objectives in close cooperation with other countries on the Continent, enhancing regional trade and investing in science and innovation.
Debates around improved access to medicines, diagnostics and vaccines have been ongoing for many years.
We therefore thank the WHO for taking this bold step and commend Member States for moving us from discussions to real work and realistic development.
As we work together to respond to this grave global crisis, we are laying a firm foundation for the achievement of health security for the world’s most vulnerable people.
In the achievement of this goal, we will not fail.
South Africa welcomes the opportunity to host a vaccine technology transfer hub and to build on the capacity and expertise that already exists on the continent to contribute to this effort.
With this investment of technology, knowledge and expertise, we will go beyond the development and manufacture of vaccines into a new era of innovation and progress.
I thank you.