Barbados’ answer to a readily available supply of vaccines to fight COVID-19 and future pandemics may very well be found via Rwanda’s leadership in the establishment of a manufacturing entity for vaccine distribution in Africa in the coming months.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley disclosed that the Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael and the Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados, Mark Hill will be going to Rwanda to continue the conversation on the proposed vaccine manufacturing entity and its potential to assist the island.
She heaped praise on her East African counterpart on this initiative which comes at a time when there is an absence of vaccine equity globally, during a joint press conference today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandyford Centre.
Ms. Mottley stated: “And, we believe that the efforts of yourself and Ghana in terms of being able to bring greater capacity, as well as greater distribution of actual products to the continent of Africa is one that we wish you all the very best in and given our discussions this morning, we hope that we can collaborate with you, as we’ve agreed on these areas of biotechnology, and science and technology generally and ICT.”
The Prime Minister continued: “Recognising that the vaccine for COVID is just about one small commodity of what that manufacturing capacity can be for, I reminded his excellency this morning that I’m also working as you know, as the chair of the One Health global initiative with the antimicrobial resistance and one of the things that the world is going to need to be able to find, is new antibiotics that can fight off the super viruses. So, to that extent, building capacity as early as now must be part of our future, because we expect future pandemics in this century regrettably, and we have to be ready knowing full well that no one is going to put us at the top of their list first unless we do it ourselves.”
Ms. Mottley also congratulated the country for the use of robots in health care facilities to minimise the risk of infection among healthcare workers in facilities.
Underscoring the importance of science and technology, Ms. Mottley shared that there were currently 6 000 University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus graduates in science over the last five years; the majority of whom are teaching the subject.
The Prime Minister pointed out that while “there’s was nobility in teaching, we recognise that, that is not the only purpose people would want to use a science degree. Therefore, we have a solemn obligation to being able to build a platform for biotechnology and ICT and Science and Technology generally.”
Ms. Mottley added that there were several universities in science and technology that had been “cutting edge” in Africa and across the globe.
Meanwhile, President Paul Kagame thanked Prime Minister Mottley for hosting him and his delegation pointing to the rich discussions on either side.
He articulated the view that both countries, though separated by distance, had “common challenges and a lot of experiences to share with each other”.
“We are going to be finding concrete ways to deepen the cooperation between our two countries going forward and also looking forward to welcoming the Prime Minister to Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in June. Through your leadership Prime Minister, Barbados has been making a mark in the global affairs.
He further stated: “Your memorable interventions at COP 26 at the last United Nations General Assembly put a spotlight on the inequalities in the global system that we must work together to address as the culture of the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, I was very pleased to welcome the Prime Minister as a new commissioner last year.”
President Kagame will depart Barbados tomorrow morning after a packed day of events that included the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between Senior Minister coordinating Social and Environmental Policy and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. The Most Honourable Jerome Walcott and Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana.
He also paid a courtesy call on Dame Sandra Mason, participated in a bilateral meeting co-chaired by Prime Minister Mottley, planted a tree in the National Botanical Gardens, engaged in an encounter with the cricket icons and legends and observed a road tennis match.