Good evening, and thank you, Chairperson, for giving me the floor. Thank you also for once again inviting the Regional Economic Communities to join the African Union Bureau to deliberate on the challenges facing our continent in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As Dr Nkengasong’s update makes clear, Covid continues to spread in Africa, including in the East African Community. Strengthening cooperation within and between regions is therefore of the highest importance.

The successful launch of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform shows how much can be achieved by working together, and the dedication of the actors is also clear. We have already started to see real benefits from this effort, and I commend the African Union Commission, along with Strive Masiyiwa and his team, for the excellent work.

I would like to request the Chairperson to consider appointing one of the Heads of State to work closely with Strive, who is already on the task, to focus on ensuring that Africa obtains the vaccine, once it is available. I think the details and importance of that have already been presented by many speakers, so I won’t go deeper into detail, but I was thinking that one of the members of the Bureau or any Head of State you might pursue for that particular task would help to achieve exactly what was talked about. This will ensure that Africa does not miss out on the vaccine, or gets insufficient quantities.

Our Special Envoys have also made significant progress with key partners on an innovative framework for providing the necessary fiscal space for Africa to fight the pandemic and support our economies. Continuing to speak with one voice will help ensure that Africa’s interests are taken into account both now and in the future.

I would like to close by highlighting the importance of advancing the domestic health financing agenda that was put in place by the Assembly, and which I have the honour of championing. This is the moment to look closely at our health budgets and see where we can improve both the quantity and quality of spending.

Ultimately, the best defence against the Covid pandemic, as well as future health emergencies, is a strong, resilient, and sustainable health system.

Chairperson, Excellencies: Thank you for your attention.