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African Leaders Hold Conference to Facilitate Local Vaccine Development


By Rogers Wanambwa 

KIU, Main Campus - African leaders convened at a global conference to talk about the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored by the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, congregated by the African Union.

In attendance were several African heads of state, health, finance, and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public.

The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialization.

It was noted that although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. 

The region lags in acquiring vaccines amid a global scramble for medicines among wealthier nations. Consequently, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The conference’s main objective was the need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness, and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population. 

Besides, the African Union and the Africa CDC vowed to continue working with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs, and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. 

“Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.

The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy. 

More so, the 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.