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Health Justice in the Commonwealth: Towards Equitable Access to Vaccines, Medicines and Technology

Jump to Guests
Mia Malan
Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor
Dr Amaka Vanni
Achal Prabhala
Dr Richard Mihigo
Date & Time
2:00pm, 29 March 2022 - 3:30pm, 29 March 2022
About the event

The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the consequences of a failed approach to global health that has widened inequalities between countries and stalled progress on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The divides between nations are stark. Millions in developing countries cannot access treatments that are readily available in developed ones and half of all Commonwealth citizens remain unvaccinated against Covid-19.

The pandemic has also revealed the deep moral bankruptcy of an intellectual property system that operates at the expense of human lives. The major pharmaceutical companies and their state sponsors have consistently blocked efforts to waive intellectual property rights that would increase the availability of treatments or distribute vaccines to those in need.

There are a growing number of proponents for a more just global health system. The Director-General of the World Health Organisation has advocated for enabling all regions to manufacture the vaccines, medicines and health technology they need.

This Critical Conversation will bring together health experts, policy makers, thought leaders and activists. It will answer questions about global health, intellectual property, and the Commonwealth’s relationship with the two.

This event has now taken place. You can watch the recording here:

Mia Malan Moderator
Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor Panellist
Dr Amaka Vanni Panellist
Achal Prabhala Panellist
Dr Richard Mihigo Speaker
Mia Malan

Mia Malan is the founding editor-in-chief of the multiple award-winning media start-up, the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, in South Africa. Mia has 25 years of experience in journalism, project management, fundraising and institution-building in legacy media and digital native publications.

Mia is a writer, editor, broadcaster, and media trainer and has worked in newsrooms and at media development organisations in Johannesburg, Nairobi, and Washington, DC. She began her journalism career at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, where she worked as a radio and television health reporter, before establishing the first health journalism program of Internews Network in Kenya. She is a regular speaker at international conferences on sustainability models for the news media in the Global South and has published on media issues for leading international media development organisations and in peer reviewed journals.

Mia is a former Knight International Journalism Fellow at the International Center for Journalists and a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Fellow at Oxford University in 2001. She has won more than 25 local and international awards for her radio, print, and television work, including the CNN Multichoice African Features Journalist of the Year in 2016.

Mia has a master’s degree in science journalism from the University of Stellenbosch.

Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor

Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor is a public health physician and a leading voice in global health equity, health security, universal health coverage and health research.

Dr Nsofor is the Senior Vice President for Africa at Human Health Education and Research Foundation. He was the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Nigeria Health Watch and led the organisations’ advocacy interventions. He served as CEO of EpiAFRIC, a health consultancy service which works on public health emergencies.

He is a Senior New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity at George Washington University. He has led 17 research projects across Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Ghana and Nigeria, and was co-lead of evaluation of the African Union intervention for Ebola Outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Dr Nsofor received his medical degree from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Medical School and obtained his Masters in Community Health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as a Ford Foundation International Fellow. Since graduating as a medical doctor, Dr Nsofor has worked in government, international non-profit organisations, indigenous non-profit health organisations and the private health sector.

Dr Amaka Vanni

Dr Vanni is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds. Her main area of research is international economic law, with a focus on intellectual property law, international trade law, global economic governance, law and development.

Dr Vanni received a B.A. in International Relations and Politics from Keele University and obtained both her LLM and PhD in International Economic Law from the University of Warwick. Her doctoral thesis won the 2018 SIEL–Hart Prize in International Economic Law.

She is the current president of the African International Economic Law Network (AfIELN), editor of the African Journal of International Economic Law and a contributing editor of Afronomicslaw.org. Dr Vanni is also a member of the IEL Collective, and a theme lead on philanthropic and social financing for the New Frontiers in International Development Finance (Nef Def) project, a multi-institutional collaborative effort.

Dr Vanni is the author of the award-winning book, ‘Patent Games in the Global South: Pharmaceutical Patent Law-Making in Brazil, India and Nigeria’ (Hart/Bloomsbury, 2020).

Achal Prabhala

Achal Prabhala is a public health activist who mainly works on monopolies in the pharmaceutical industry. He is a fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation and coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa.

Achal has been a visiting researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town, and has worked with several non-profit organisations in India. During the pandemic, he has worked extensively on ways to increase access to vaccines, and is now engaged in a campaign to diversify the production of mRNA vaccines.

Dr Richard Mihigo

Dr Richard Mihigo is the Coordinator of Immunisation & Vaccines Development (IVD) in the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo.

A senior public health specialist, Dr Mihigo has worked from 1994 to 2003 at various senior level positions in the national health system of his native country, Rwanda, including managing the National Immunisation Programme from 2000-2003. He has over 25 years of experience in designing, implementing and evaluating disease control programmes at national and international levels. Dr Mihigo joined WHO in July 2004 and has held the position as Coordinator of the IVD Program since 2014. In this role, he coordinates WHO’s technical support to Member States in the African region in the planning, monitoring, and evaluation of immunisation programmes.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Mihigo has been supporting WHO’s response to COVID-19 in the African region as Deputy Incident Manager and is coordinating WHO’s efforts to support countries’ preparedness and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr Mihigo holds a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Kisangani, DR Congo and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

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