Development finance institution (DFI) the African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged its support and expertise to increase the local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public health security in Africa.
This is in line with calls made by Africa Union (AU) heads of State during a vaccine development and manufacturing capacity conference.
Although Africa uses about 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 behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa, says AfDB private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation VP Solomon Quaynor.
The conference’s main objective was to drive 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.
The AU and its public health agency the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.
“The current undertaking will require immense investment. Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive, but an institutional drive,” Quaynor notes.
The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry is for Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa.
The AfDB 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 “industrialise Africa” priority strategy, Quaynor says.
The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja, Nigeria in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa, prepared by the AU Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.
The AfDB will support the work to secure Africa’s health defence system.
“Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and public-private partnerships, 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,” he says.