Tuesday, 9th August 2022
<To guardian.ng
Breaking News:

Nigeria, others may lose out in scramble for 16.4m monkeypox doses

By Chukwuma Muanya
03 August 2022   |   3:20 am
Nigeria and other low-income countries may lose out, as scramble for monkeypox vaccines beckons, with 35 nations vying for the 16.4 million doses that exist so far, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive” are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration<br />

• 12 African nations move to end AIDS among children by 2030

Nigeria and other low-income countries may lose out, as scramble for monkeypox vaccines beckons, with 35 nations vying for the 16.4 million doses that exist so far, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The agency’s Director of Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes, Meg Doherty, in a report first published by The Guardian UK, said there was “quite a possible risk” that the countries bidding for supplies would be high-income countries.

She said: “We’ll have to watch out for this. Our mantra has been and continues to be that we want equity. If WHO needs to say that louder and stronger for those countries, who are not getting access, we will continue to do that.

“We can’t have a monkeypox response that’s only responding to the UK, Canada and the United States. We need a response that also addresses what’s happening in the DRC right now and Nigeria, where cases are going up.”

Doherty spoke at the International AIDS conference in Montreal, Canada, where Prof. Chris Beyrer from Johns Hopkins University noted at the weekend that monkeypox was another preventable pandemic, adding that the warning signs were there five years ago.

The don observed: “It turns out that monkeypox emerged out of its Central African endemic zone into West Africa in 2017, five years ago, and the outbreak has been ongoing for five years with no urgency, no response, no WHO engagement around vaccines in those countries.”

Beyrer, who is a member of an ongoing Lancet commission on health and human rights, added: “Now that it has gone from six endemic countries to 76, and is the new emerging global health threat in the wealthy world, we have this sense of urgency.”

Doherty, however, said discussions were due with Japan, where another vaccine had been developed and 100 million doses of smallpox vaccines existing, stating: “That’s probably the least likely vaccine that most countries want to be using at this point in time due to potential side effects.”

Latest WHO figures show nearly 20,000 cases of monkeypox in 78 countries and five deaths. The data indicated that 98 per cent of the victims were men who had sex with their fellows.

IN a related development, the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WHO and partners, yesterday, inaugurated a new global alliance to end Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) among children by 2030.

Consequently, Nigeria and 11 others have joined the alliance. The list includes Angola, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa.

The rest are Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The new Global Alliance for Ending AIDS in Children by 2030 was announced by leading figures at the International AIDS Conference taking place in Montreal, Canada.

In addition to the United Nations agencies, the alliance includes civil society movements, including the Global Network of People living with HIV, national governments in the most affected countries and international partners like the United States President’s Emergency Preparedness Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Global Fund.

Latest information contained in the UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2022 hinted that only 52 per cent of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment, as against the 76 per cent of adults on antiretrovirals.

Addressing the global conference, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, pledged to “change the lives of children left behind” by putting in place the systems needed to ensure that health services meet the needs of infected kids.

Nigeria, he announced, would host the alliance’s political launch in Africa at a ministerial meeting in October this year.

UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, said: “The wide gap in treatment coverage between children and adults is an outrage. Through this alliance, we will channel that outrage into action.”

Her UNICEF counterpart, Catherine Russell, noted: “Despite progress to reduce vertical transmission, increase testing, treatment and expand access to information, children around the world are still far less likely than adults to have access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services.”

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated: “No child should be born with or grow up with HIV, and no child with HIV should go without treatment.

“The fact that only half of children with HIV receive antiretrovirals is a scandal, and a stain on our collective conscience.”

In this article