By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Musicians from West Africa have united with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to promote confidence in the safety and efficacy of Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
They are expressing the concern one month after the start of the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in several West and Central African countries.
The musical artistes made the call in response to what they described as “record levels of vaccine misinformation that is sweeping across the African region.”
They said the misinformation is posing a risk to efforts being made to control the global pandemic.
UNICEF Nigeria Ambassador, Cobhams Asuquo, on Wednesday called on Nigerians to have confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure children receive their routine immunizations to prevent deadly diseases.
The call was made on 7th April 2021 in commemoration of World Health Day.
Cobhams was joined in the call by other world-renowned African artists, namely: Angelique Kidjo, Calema, Magic System and Safiath.
“We have a critical window of opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of COVID-19 immunization efforts, to combat misinformation and address vaccine hesitancy,” UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier, said. “Rumours and misinformation literally cost lives by discouraging people to seek vaccination, the best tool available to avoid contracting and spreading deadly vaccine-preventable diseases, including COVID-19. I applaud the commitment of national governments and of these talented artists and influential community members, who are calling for everyone to support COVID-19 immunization efforts.”
Cobhams Asuquo said, “As Nigerians and as Africans, we have gone through too much to let this virus hold us back and endanger our futures that we are fighting so hard to make better. We need to do whatever we can to safeguard our future.”
“Vaccines have been saving the lives of Nigerian and children for many years – and we have to make sure they continue to. Thanks to vaccines, I know that my children will not have to suffer from polio, measles or smallpox. Thanks to vaccines, I know that I will not end up in the hospital with COVID-19 – leaving my family on their own. That is because vaccines work. They save lives,” Cobhams said.
In 2020, Cobhams Asuquo produced the widely-acclaimed song “We Go Win” to fight rumours and misinformation about COVID-19. The song was listened to by millions in Nigeria and beyond.
“I am here to tell you that vaccines save lives. As a child, I was vaccinated and I will get immunized against COVID-19 when the vaccine becomes available to me,” Benin-born singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo, said in a video to be released today, UNICEF stated in a news release.
In May last year, Angelique Kidjo re-recorded Miriam Makeba’s 1967 hit song ‘Pata Pata’, to spread information about COVID-19, and reached hundreds of millions of people, including in remote communities around the world, the UN agency said..
“We have two choices: either we stay idle and let the virus destroy what we built, or we stand up and use the vaccines as a weapon against COVID-19. Together, we are stronger,” Fradique Mendes Ferreira from the band Calema, UNICEF Sao Tome e Principe Ambassador, said.
“COVID-19 vaccines present a real opportunity for us to get back to normal. For the art world, which has been severely impacted by the crisis, the vaccine is giving us hope that we’ll soon be able to reconnect with our fans. I encourage everyone, even those who are not yet sure about it, to get vaccinated in order to support health authorities’ efforts to fight back against the pandemic,” said A’salfo, from the band Magic System in Côte d’Ivoire.
“Vaccines have prevented polio, chickenpox and measles from spreading for generations. Soon, vaccines will help slow the spread of COVID-19 too,” singer Safiath, a popular artist in Niger, said.