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WEBINAR| “Leaving no one behind”: Promoting democratic accountability and public oversight in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in Southern Africa.
Feb 24 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
“Leaving no one behind”: Promoting democratic accountability and public oversight in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in Southern Africa.
Date: 23 February 2021
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0r2vHY5ITBaCj9MUJroEog
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a “global pandemic”, pointing to reports of having been confirmed in over 110 countries and the sustained risk of further global spread. Since then, the novel coronavirus outbreak has claimed more than 2 million lives globally, overwhelmed health systems and terribly affected economies around the world. In the African continent, a new and more transmissible strain of the disease, which was first detected in South Africa, is causing the rapid increase of infections in neighbouring countries and has been confirmed thousands of miles away in countries such as Ghana and Kenya.
At the start of the outbreak, there was no effective treatment or cure for COVID-19 and countries had resorted to public health and putting in place social measures to contain the spread of the virus. Towards the end of 2020, a number of vaccine trials around the world started to show promising results that we could be closer to finding an effective and safe vaccine to help everyone exit the ongoing pandemic. Nonetheless, rich countries in the Global North pre-ordered sufficient doses of vaccines to cover their populations several times over and are also reiterating their opposition to a proposal to waive intellectual property rules for the available COVID-19 vaccines, leaving countries in the Global South with very limited options for its populations, placing them at high risk.
Although there are a number of efforts that are currently being carried out by African nations in securing vaccines for its people, it also becomes important to address the shortcomings in vaccine rollout plans that are being announced by nations across the region. At present, there is a huge fear amongst civil society and other relevant stakeholders across the region that governments will not carry out equitable and inclusive vaccine distribution, leading to a serious harm in human rights violations, and other vulnerable groups such as immigrants, LGBTIQ etc. being left behind. Lack of democratic oversight in the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and testing kits resulted in numerous corruption cases, reducing the public confidence in the government’s management of the COVID situation.
There is therefore a need for a concerted and coordinated regional approach that makes sure that no one is left behind throughout the distributions of vaccines. It is against this backdrop that the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN) in partnership with the African Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) are organising a high-level webinar to call on the sub-regional governments to transparently reveal their vaccine roll-out strategies, and that this be inclusive and maximised for democratic accountability to protect the health and safety rights of their citizens and residents. The webinar will provide an opportunity for the Civil Society in the SADC region to contribute and participate in advising the respective governments on improving the vaccine rollout plans.
- To increase democratic oversight and public participation on the rolling out of vaccines in the SADC region.
- To propose utilization focused and public responsive recommendations to the SADC bloc on the vaccine rollout plans.
 J. Ducharme ‘World Health Organization Declares COVID-19 a ‘Pandemic.’ Here’s What That Means’ (11 March 2020) Time available at: https://time.com/5791661/who-coronavirus-pandemic-declaration/
 World Health Organization, ‘New COVID-19 variants fuelling Africa’s second wave’ (28 January 2021) available at: https://www.afro.who.int/news/new-covid-19-variants-fuelling-africas-second-wave
 C, Zimmer ‘Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker’ (3 February 2021) available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html
 The Guardian. Canada and UK among countries with most vaccine doses ordered per person. January 29, 2021. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/29/canada-and-uk-among-countries-with-most-vaccine-doses-ordered-per-person