The African Union has convened a global meeting with African leaders to discuss the need to accelerate local vaccine production to improve public-health security.
At the two-day virtual meeting which began on Monday, discussions held centred on the progress of local pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa opened the meeting with the remarks that: “The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority.”
In attendance were several heads of State, ministers of health, finance and trade from across the continent. Other global leaders present span global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers and business leaders.
Africa’s vaccine manufacturing is not commensurate with its vaccine consumption. While the continent consumes almost one-quarter of global vaccines, it manufactures less than 1% of its daily vaccines. This does not include production of outbreak vaccines, since it produces none.
Furthermore, the situation is dire in the region, as it lags behind accessing vaccines in the midst of a struggle for the vaccines among advanced countries. Currently, only about 2% of the global vaccination against Covid-19 has occurred in Africa.
Thus, the conference’s main objective focused on the need for a new public health order in Africa. This new shift will promote domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of continent.
Dialogue on local vaccine development
On the back of this, the African Union and the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) promised to continue working with all stakeholders to provide the needed support towards the production of vaccines.
Solomon Quaynor, the Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization of the AfDB noted that the project underway would require immense investment.
“Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.
Moreover, this work-in-progress will build on already existing efforts to produce a continental plan of action. This will help accelerate African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in 2005.
Solomon Quaynor indicated that Africa could leverage on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defence system.
“Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment,… provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees.
“We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”
In remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina, Quaynor said that in order to meet the 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa.
This is so that it may create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora.
Following these worthwhile agenda, the AU and Africa CDC launched partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing framework by signing to Memoranda of Understanding to achieve it.