BALTIMORE, MARCH 18, 2021 – A prominent scientist speaking recently at the Academy Health program of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health has called for more COVID-19 vaccines for low-to-middle income countries and proposed to the International Monetary Funds and other international financial institutions to cancel debt owed by developing countries during the COVID 19 pandemic. These proposals were contained in a slew of recommendations made by Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, an infectious disease expert who spoke on global access to COVID-19 vaccines equity and “the global health and economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In his virtual presentation which was attended by students and faculty of the JHU public health school as well as the public, Dr. Nyan noted that, “Africa has a total debt of more than 417 billion dollars — about 35-36% of which is owed to the IMF, the World Bank, the Paris Club and other international financial institutions.”
Quoting from IMF and World Bank data, Dr. Nyan, pointed out the decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of emerging markets and developing countries, while their debt burden continues to increase.
He added that African countries will not be able to pay such debt given their “crippling economy under the weight of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This debt relief should therefore enable these countries to recuperate when the COVID-19 Pandemic is over, he added.
Dr. Nyan also suggested that “a demand for fiscal discipline, and monetary transparency and accountability from governments of poorer countries be employed as conditions for said debt relief since corruption and mismanagement of financial resources has plagued most African countries for years.”
In 2014 during the Ebola outbreak, economies of the West African States of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone suffered a heavy blow from an epidemic which lasted for about 2 years and resulted to over 11,000 deaths with a steep decline in the GDPs. Ebola-affected countries are still felling the negative impact of past epidemic.
Addressing the issue of equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Nyan noted that, “rich countries are amassing lots of COVID-19 vaccines, while poorer nations are struggling to obtain vaccines and are left to the mercy of GAVI, the vaccine alliance, which has now secured more than 20 million doses for low-to-middle income countries in its membership.”
He added that there is “a need to bridge this widening gap and disparity in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution globally, and address the lack of access among certain ethnic minorities.”
The NIH-trained Liberian infectious disease scientist, Dr. Nyan, stated that, “scientific data show that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States and Europe are safe and effective and that vaccines safe lives.” He encouraged citizens to “get vaccinated against COVID-19, continue wearing mask, practicing hands-washing, avoid large gatherings, and keeping the social-physical distances so that we can beat the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Main Photo: Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, M.D.