By Juliana Vandy
Vice President of Sierra Leone Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has called on global leaders to accelerate the progress in responding to the Corona pandemic in order for them to reach the vaccination target of 70% of the world’s population by UNGA 2022.
He made this statement at a virtual summit organised and hosted by White House to call on global leaders to make new commitments to fight against the Corona pandemic, including commitments to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population by September 2022.
The summit focused on efforts to reach worldwide consensus on how to end the Corona virus pandemic and encourage participating countries to “identify concrete actions and set the ambitious targets needed to achieve that goal and prepare the world for future health security threats.”
Speaking at the summit, the vice president disclosed that Sierra Leone has succeeded in keeping its total infection rate at 6400 because of the early preparedness mechanisms in the Covid-19 fight put in place by the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio and his government.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the planet to a standstill. “Whether it was testing our global access to medical supplies and technologies, our health infrastructures or frontline workers and their resilience, the pandemic has had tremendous impact on our lives,” VP Jalloh lamented.
Highlighting the challenges brought by the pandemic, Vice President Jalloh said it has caused individual losses, interruptions in education, economies and fundamentally shaken the very social fabric of the world.
He noted that the emergence of the pandemic in 2020 has shown the need for countries to work together more than ever before in dealing with Covid-19 and future pandemics.
According to Vice President Jalloh, Sierra Leone has lost an estimated amount of $2 billion in revenues in 2020 alone due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic in terms of lockdowns, restrictions, curfews, impact on businesses, tourism and other economic activities.
He pointed out that for a country like Sierra Leone that sum is huge. “Our government must now grapple with how this can be managed and balanced with the other critical needs of the Sierra Leonean people,” he stated.
He called on global leaders to accelerate the progress in responding to the pandemic in order for them to reach the vaccination target of 70% of the world’s population by September 2022.
He disclosed that Sierra Leone has received just under 1 million (991,490) doses of different Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX mechanism, direct donations by the Chinese Government and the African Union. “In the last few weeks, we have received an additional 265,000 doses from COVAX-USG (including the Pfizer vaccine). While this is expected to be enough to vaccinate roughly 800,000 people in-country representing approximately 10% of the total population, another 300,000 doses are in the pipeline to be received this year. However they will not be sufficient to reach the 70% mark,” he stated.
He further disclosed that 78,000 people, or approximately 1.1% of the country’s total population are fully vaccinated while 325,000 have received at least one dose. Dr. Juldeh Jalloh disclosed that 60% of the health workforce in the country has been vaccinated.
He appealed to the international community to extend the timeline of funding and expected results to allow adequate period for domestic budgets to absorb the workforce because building capacity requires time and he encouraged them to mobilise large scale funding to provide the needed critical threshold of investments and to separate funding from policy to enable governments to best determine the needs of their countries and prioritise budgets to support that development.