Africa’s fight against COVID-19 now has an online marketplace to help lower the cost of accessing COVID-19 test kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), and future vaccines as they become available.
The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), announced by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on June 19, will work much like eBay or Amazon.
It’s expected to reduce the cost of accessing coronavirus-related medical supplies for countries in Africa by billions of dollars.
The platform is a result of a partnership between the African Union, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and other African and international organisations.
Ramaphosa made the announcement in his capacity as the chairperson of the African Union.
He said the online market is the “glue that is going to bind the continent together” in its fight against coronavirus, and added that it will address challenges like shortages, as well as fairplay globally and affordability.
The market will also reduce delays in distributing supplies, with South African Airways and Ethiopian Airways on board to help transport them around the continent.
Ramaphosa added: “[AMSP will] provide a common platform where governments can access services from quality and certified suppliers.”
The global scramble for resources in the fight against the global pandemic has led to fears of shortages in countries that cannot afford to compete for resources, while historically weak health systems in Africa would be unable to contain massive COVID-19 outbreaks, experts have warned.
A report published by the Lancet journal in May said that even though mass testing is a crucial part of containing COVID-19, African nations are struggling to compete with powerful countries in accessing and delivering tests.
African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa said the platform is just one of the ways that the African continent is uniting against COVID-19.
He said: “[AMSP was] developed to help mitigate the devastating impact of this pandemic threatening both the health of our people and our national economies. We are already getting requests from other parts of the world to license the AMSP concept.”
Professor Benedict Oramah, president of Afreximbank, added: “Our joint initiative with ECA and the African Union, through Africa CDC, is a proactive way to respond to the pandemic more effectively.”
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