By Collins Mtika, Lusaka, Zambia
The Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has secured $ 1 billion in funding from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) to assist African countries in scaling up the manufacturing of vaccines by 2040 to reach 60 percent of local needs from the current 30 percent.
Less than ten African companies that produce vaccines are based in Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia, making up the five countries.
To protect itself from pandemics and disease outbreaks in the future, Africa is expected to increase its production of vaccinations significantly. Additionally, the continent wants to make sure that delays like those experienced by African countries in obtaining COVID-19 vaccines never occur again.
Africa, CDC Director-General, Dr. Jean Kaseya said local manufacturing of various vaccines is akin to the second independence of Africa after the colonial independence of the 1960s.
“We have the ambition to position Africa as a manufacturing hub because we believe the time has come for the world to hear from Africa and Africans themselves,” Dr. Kaseya said.
He said this during a press conference on Monday at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka. The press conference was a precursor to the official opening of the third international conference on public health in Africa, which will be held in the Zambian capital for one week.
To be held under the theme: “Breaking Barriers: repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture”, the conference will host over 5000 delegates in physical attendance and 20,000 others will attend virtually, along with 25 Ministers of health from across Africa.
For life-saving vaccines, Africa is primarily dependent on other parts of the world. Out of all the vaccines given in Africa, only one per cent are made there; the other 99 percent cents are imported. According to the CDC, such an imbalance in production can lead to significant health disparities between regions as well as unequal access to necessary vaccinations.
“No one will be safe if Everyone is not safe. We need to start using African products and we can start by using positive discrimination and our products,” Dr. Kaseya said.
According to Akhona Tshangela, the Africa CDC’s PAVM Coordinator, “Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) was formed to strengthen the African vaccine manufacturing ecosystem and set Africa on the path to locally manufacture 60 per cent of the continent’s routine immunisation needs by 2040.”
Zambia’s Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo, hailed the CDC’s initiative, saying it will prop up vaccine acceptance rates in many African countries and that Zambia is a role model in that regard.
“We have 75 per cent to 80 per cent vaccine acceptance rates and we continue to work with Traditional leaders and religious institutions so that they support the government in ensuring that communities accept vaccines,” Maseko said.