Williamsville doctor to travel overseas to help vaccinate people in Africa

WILLIAMSVILLE N.Y. (WIVB) – Now that the U.S. has made progress vaccinating its citizens, a local doctor wants to turn some attention to underserved countries.

Dr. Riyaz Hassanali is the medical director at the Advanced Cosmetic Surgery Center in Williamsville. Over the years he’s traveled to developing countries, like Tanzania, to offer medical assistance. On Tuesday, he’s flying out to Tanzania again, and this time it’s to help vaccinate people.

“There is definitely an excess of vaccines and without losing the potency I think it’s time for us to share these vaccines with those countries that simply cannot afford to get their citizens vaccinated,” he said.

Dr. Hassanali, who was born in Tanzania, says up until recently the country did not have access to a COVID-19 vaccine. He says that’s partly because of political reasons and because vaccines just weren’t available to Africa. He says this will also be the time Tanzania will have a vaccine program.

“Our organization is one of the first in the country to be given permission to bring in vital, life-saving vaccines for the people,” he said.

Dr. Hassanali hopes others organizations will step up and help countries that are at a disadvantage for receiving medical supplies.

“Whatever happens in Africa in the pandemic will effect us in the long run anyway so we might as well take a proactive approach to combating this global pandemic,” he said.

Hassanali expects he’ll be in Tanzania for up to a month. During that time his team plans on vaccinating around 25,000 people.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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