With outbreaks of anthrax and another potentially unidentified disease having caused nearly 1,200 suspected cases and 20 deaths across five African countries, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges wealthy countries to ensure equitable access to health commodities, such as diagnostics and vaccines, to ensure outbreaks can be identified and stamped out immediately.
“The anthrax outbreak is another example of why we need equity, not charity on global health. As long as some places have all the resources to respond and others don’t—we won’t have truly functional pandemic preparedness. We saw this with COVID-19 and the lack of vaccines for Africans as wealthy countries hoarded them, along with the know-how and tech to produce much-needed commodities,” said AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr. Penninah Iutung. “Lower-income countries will continue to suffer from preventable disease outbreaks until big pharma and rich countries prioritize lives over profits. We call on pharmaceutical makers like Emergent BioDefense Operations Lansing, manufacturer of the anthrax vaccine, to ensure adequate doses and diagnostic kits are available for the affected regions.”
Anthrax is a disease caused by bacteria commonly found in soil and can be passed to livestock and humans by breathing in or ingesting spore-contaminated food and water or through cuts in the skin. It can be prevented by vaccinating humans and livestock and is not contagious, except in rare cases of cutaneous anthrax.