BRIDGETON, BARBADOS- The answer to Barbados’ need for a readily available supply of vaccines to combat COVID-19 and future pandemics may lie in Rwanda’s leadership in setting up a manufacturing entity for the distribution of vaccines in Africa in the coming months.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced that the Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology, Davidson Ishmael, and the Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados, Mark Hill, would be traveling to Rwanda to discuss the proposed vaccine manufacturing entity and its potential to assist Barbados.
During a joint press conference held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandyford Centre, she praised her East African counterpart’s initiative, which comes at a time when vaccine equity is lacking globally.
In her remarks, PM 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, “Recognizing that the COVID vaccine represents just a small portion of what those manufacturing capacities could be used for, I reminded his excellency this morning that I’m also leading the One Health global initiative with the antimicrobial resistance, and this is one of the things that the world will need to be able to find, is new antibiotics that can fight off the super viruses.”
“In that sense, building capacity is part of our future, since we can expect future pandemics in this century, regrettably, and we have to be ready, knowing full well that no one will put us at the top of their list until we do it ourselves.”
Additionally, Ms. Mottley congratulated the country for the use of robots in healthcare facilities to reduce the risk of infection among healthcare workers.
As a demonstration of the importance of science and technology, Ms. Mottley shared that there are currently 6 000 University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus graduates in science over the past five years, the majority of whom are teaching the subject.
While the Prime Minister clarified that “teaching is noble, we recognise that people don’t only wish to use science degrees for that purpose.”. It is our responsibility to build a platform for biotechnology, ICT, and science and technology generally.”
According to Ms. Mottley, there were a number of science and technology universities in Africa and around the world that have been “cutting edge.”
Meanwhile, President Paul Kagame expressed his appreciation to Prime Minister Mottley for hosting him and his delegation, noting the fruitful discussions they had on both sides.
According to Kagame, 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 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 Paul Kagame arrived in Barbados at the Grantley Adams International Airport on Friday 15 and departed Saturday 16 April.
He had a packed day of events that included the signing of a Cooperation Agreement between the Senior Minister coordinating Social and Environmental Policy and the 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 the President of Barbados 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.