It was a loud scream, I heard it so loudly that it woke me from my sleep that night. The voice was very familiar. I remembered the voice and it was that of my next door neighbour.
I wanted to rush out to see what was happening but the hour was too odd, darkness has clouded the skies with shadows hovering around.
“I dare not take such risk”, I said to myself and went back to sleep.
The following day I went to her room to find out what happened and she explained that she had a nightmare after reading a meme on social media which said that everybody will die by June as a result of coronavirus.
That explanation made no sense to me but I consoled her and went back into my room and begun to analyse what she said.
Since the start of covid19, several measures have been put in place to contain and avoid the spread of the virus. But the big fact still standing out is that no vaccine or drug has been found to combat it which questions how long we will be in lockdown.
I kept wondering if this is going to remain the new way of life to the world and to Ghanaians as well. What if we all truly die by June?
These questions kept bothering my mind and then I said to myself “I have to stop being pessimistic. Besides scientists across the world are trying to come out with vaccines and some are already under trials, why the need for fear?”
Then again I thought deeply and realized that no African country including Ghana is putting efforts in producing a vaccine or a drug but rather waiting and hoping that other continents succeed in developing a vaccine which can also be imported into Ghana.
Even if these vaccines turn out positive, those countries will have to use it for their benefits before extending it to Ghana and other African countries.
But then, I have a little reason to be happy because the president while delivering his seventh address on covid19 updates, announced that Ghana will support the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative for vaccine development in Africa.
The Initiative was founded in 2015 to advocate for strengthening African’s capacity to develop and manufacture vaccines.
Africa represents 14percent of the world’s population and it is estimated that by 2050, 25 of the global population will live in Africa but United Nations Organization reported that less than 2percent of vaccines used in Africa are produced in Africa.
So it’s a step in the right direction to support the initiative. But we need to do more than just supporting the initiative especially in this moment of global emergency.
Our heavy reliance on imported drugs is worrying. A report conducted by the Ghana Business Development Review revealed that 70percent of pharmaceutical products used in Ghana are imported even though local producers have the capacity to fill the gap.
Most of these imports are from India and China, thereby leaving the local manufacturers with only 30percent market share.
Because these drugs are imported they turn out to be very expensive limiting its accessibility to the poor.
This high rate on foreign dependency indirectly puts our safety and survival on their fingertips.
It is not funny to keep spending huge sums of money on drug importation including over the counter drugs which could be used in expanding our health facilities, resourcing experts in the bio medical field including scientists and researchers and other concerned bodies to be able to produce a higher percentage of the drugs we consume and also improve the level of our health sector.
It’s high time we end this dependency issue and prove our worth as Ghanaians and as Africans. Instead of continuously making other countries rich while complaining of poverty, let us use our own resource to develop ourselves.
We should focus on local production of vaccines and medicines. We should be committed to building and shaping our own biopharmaceutical manufacturing capacity.
We can initially focus on domestic needs and later expand to supply international markets. We are blessed with a lot of herbs and if we make good use of them we can produce a drug that will be easily available and cost less to Ghanaians.
The president should consider bringing together our scientists, researchers, herbalists, pharmaceutical companies and others who are at the forefront of vaccine development under a single taskforce.
They should come together and work towards the development of covid19 vaccine and or drugs for its cure.
We need to as a country develop our manufacturing capabilities to ensure that we can make and access large quantities of the medicine.
This is the time to make a better use of the Centre for Research into Plant medicine at Mampong Akuapem that was created for research on the development of herbal medicines.
Ghana is lagging behind especially in these abnormal times.
Even though most of the steps taken to curb the situation is commendable, we still need to do more as a country.
Lockdown may prevent spread but a vaccine or drug is needed to totally kill the virus.
This should be an opportunity to glow in darkness, If Ghana is able to develop a vaccine for covid19 that will be a breakthrough and also prove that we are capable.
But as I am ending this article, I am beginning to feel scared that all I wrote may just remain nothing but a dream.
Even so, Nelson Mandela once said “Winner is a dreamer who never gives up”. Therefore I will hope that Ghana will start putting efforts to develop a vaccine or a drug against covid19. We can be the saviours of many others.
Let us just ask ourselves, “If they can, why can’t we?”
Source: Saeed Fridaus | University of Ghana