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Sereni on Africa: healthcare and vaccine aid Italy’s top priority

Today, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation attended the Salute e Sviluppo: l’impegno per l’Africa meeting at the Farnesina. Organised by NGOs Amref Health Africa – Italia and Codeway, the meeting centred on the findings of an Ipsos survey carried out on behalf of Amref Italia, titled La narrazione sull’Africa (The Africa Narrative). Conducted across the Italian population, the focus of the survey was healthcare, the pandemic, migration and public perceptions of the African Continent.

Addressing participants, the Deputy Minister underscored the Department for Cooperation’s “firm commitment to Africa, a key cooperation partner and a recipient of significant official development aid.”

In that respect, she added, “healthcare is a foremost priority; one acted on based upon the understanding that there can be no amount of development without healthcare and that we cannot end the pandemic without an equitable distribution of vaccines.

“We were among the first to submit that the pandemic can only be reined in through such multilateral instruments as the COVAX Facility – to which Italy has contributed 385 million euros, issuing in the donation of some 45 million vaccine doses, of which over 21 million earmarked for Africa. Now, however, is not the time to stop. We must continue in our endeavours to both increase supplies and increase distribution and uptake, such that vaccine doses translate into vaccine shots.”

Deputy Minister Sereni also highlighted the need both to raise awareness among locals concerning the importance of vaccines and to train healthcare staff and professionals in situ with a view to bolstering African countries’ healthcare services. Another key item for future discussion is the building up vaccine production lines at the regional level; to which end the transfer of technology and knowledge is required.”

With more than 40% of the population under the age of 30, she added, “Africa is not just a continental crisis hotspot; it is also a continental opportunity. We need to be aware of that; and we must try and make that understanding available to the broader public by promoting positive outlooks on migration.” Diasporas, she said, “offer a beautiful snapshot of such opportunities and play a fundamental role in development policies – as noted within [Italy’s] law on cooperation.”

In her closing remarks, Deputy Minister Marina Sereni reminded her audience of the value of “investing in youth and women, who rank as an untapped resource and an avenue for sustainable development throughout the African continent.”

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