Public health future dependent on local production of vaccines

Even as some African countries such as Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Morocco work towards the local production of COVID-19 vaccines, experts are calling for greater collaboration on the continent to secure strong public health outcomes against future pandemics.

The continent has also been urged to invest in other areas such as the local production of syringes and cold chains, among others.

Speaking at a virtual meeting on “vaccines research and development and delivery for Africa” Dr Ebere Okereke, Senior Technical Adviser at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and honorary Senior Public Health Adviser to the Director of Africa CDC, said a secured public  health future for Africa depends on local manufacturing of health products and diagnostic tools.

The meeting was organized by Amref Health Africa, an African-led agency implementing projects across 35 countries and Dalberg Advisors, a leading global strategic advisory firm that works collaboratively with public, private and philanthropic organizations.

The meeting, held in partnership with Global health Strategies, brought together African leaders and opinion shapers to discuss ongoing efforts to bolster Africa’s research and development capacity.

The dialogue focused on multi-stakeholder action towards building capacity for vaccine development, production, and distribution, opportunities for regional collaboration, and solutions to barriers such as financing, vaccine hesitancy, and access to licenses and technology.

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the inequities in access to COVID-19 tests and vaccines have laid bare many of Africa’s challenges regarding equitable access to health care.

Information copied to the ghanabusinessnews.com by the organizers of the meeting, indicates that despite representing 14% of the world’s population Africa, lags far behind the rest of the world in COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and therapeutics.

Besides, as countries around the world race to administer booster shots for their populations, only 6% of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, compared to over 70% in the European Union.

As of October 2021, just 5 out of 54 African countries were projected to hit the year-end target of fully vaccinating 40% of their populations.

The series of webinars being held by the organizers is expected to focus on rebuilding and strengthening health systems in Africa during and beyond the pandemic to protect populations from future emergencies and deliver quality, affordable health care to all.

African countries are rallying to develop local and regional manufacturing capacity for diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics to guide them through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Ms. Mah-Sere Keita, Director of Programmes for the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM), addressing the virtual meeting said with the local production of vaccines in the next few years, Africa would be better prepared for pandemics.

By Eunice Menka

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