In this segment of our As We Re/Gather collaboration with Equal Health’s international chapters of its Campaign Against Racism, CAR’s Uganda chapter lays out the impact of vaccine inequity, Western capitalism, and systemic racism on public health and the livelihoods of Ugandans, with clear calls to action on vaccine access and redistribution of wealth and resources:

“This inequity we are seeing in vaccine distribution is not an accident. It is a symptom of neocolonial policies driven by capitalist economic models that richer countries have leverage to hold vaccines in the market and leave poorer countries at the mercy of their donations of their leftover vaccines. This is really absurd.”

“To date, the government of Uganda has not procured a single vaccine, despite the location of funds by parliament of Uganda to do the same. The president has always argued that this is due to lack of vaccines in the global market. Actually most of the vaccines distributed in Uganda are donations from richer countries. We thank you very much for the aid, however, this business of donating vaccines are actually leftovers from richer countries stockpiles, most of them with short shelf-lives and some of them have been abolished in these countries, should stop yesterday. For me, this is the weakest form of equity and solidarity in this time of Covid 19. This instead perpetuates a dependence of global South economies on western richer countries.”

“The World Bank efforts in vaccine equity indicate that the bank is using grant mechanisms to to help countries finance purchases and loans for middle-income countries… This is a vicious cycle of grants to credits to loans. Credits do not have any interest rates to prevent debt at this time. This is a revolving credit which returns to richer countries in the form of increased profits.”

“The different forms of vaccine access efforts have raised questions about the intentions of high-income countries, which has in turn contributed to the vaccine hesitancy in our local context here in Uganda. Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine inequity are not mutually exclusive, but instead are constitutive, as some Ugandan citizens will justify their refusal of western vaccines due to their paranoia about the Western agenda. The Three C’s model of vaccine hesitancy (convenience, confidence and complacence) according to the World Health Organization, clearly highlights the root cause analysis of vaccine resistance which if rigorously examined should address the current challenges expressed by the vaccine implementing bodies.”

“This vaccine inequity is one symptom of broader global health inequalities that have their roots in colonialism and persist today because of neocolonial forms of power. Vaccine justice starts with moving beyond aid models of vaccine donation in which poorer countries are gifted vaccine leftovers. It demands rapidly achieving global consensus for intellectual property waivers, democratizing vaccine intellectual property and knowhow, and supporting low-income and middle income countries to build manufacturing capacity for this pandemic as we move forward.”

“No one is safe until everyone is safe.”