What you need to know:
- Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, developed countries raced to manufacture vaccines as a remedy for the deadly virus that was killing people in thousands per day.
After experiencing vaccine inequity during the Covid-19 pandemic, several African pharmaceutical companies are preparing to manufacture vaccines locally in readiness for another global pandemic.
Dr Denis Kibira, the coordinator of Medicines Transparency Alliance in Uganda, explained that after the bitter experience that Africa went through in containing the deadly Covid-19, pharmaceutical associations on the continent have embarked on building capacity.
“After Covid-19, Africa and even our development partners have been pushing to improve local production of pharmaceuticals on the continent and particularly for vaccines,” he said last week.
“Remember during Covid, Africa was the last to be considered in terms of getting vaccines. We got vaccines when all other continents were satisfied and that inequity in vaccine distribution led to a thought to have Africa improve its vaccine production capacity,” he added.
Dr Kibira explained that the African Union has declared that by 2040, the continent should be producing 60 percent of its vaccine needs from the current less than one percent.
“It is a very ambitious target but a good one for us to meet it hence the need to have pharmaceutical associations to drive this agenda,” he said.
This was during the two-day meeting in Entebbe on enhancing the role of pharmaceutical manufacturing associations in vaccine manufacturing in Africa organised by Ahaki Afya na Haki, a civil society organisation.
Following the outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020, developed countries raced to manufacture vaccines as a remedy for the deadly virus that was killing people in thousands per day.
Vaccines were at the time the most critical tool to save lives and livelihoods.
The world in a record period of about six months, was able to produce Covid-19 vaccines but African countries, including Uganda, were among the last to receive them through the COVAX facility.
Speaking at the same event, Mr Nazeem Mohamed, the vice chairperson of Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, said whenever a global pandemic breaks out, Africa turns out to be a beggar for vaccines.
He said it is high time that the continent put its best foot forward and be able to manufacture more than 60 percent of its own vaccines by 2040 as set by African Union.
African countries account for 3 percent of the global medicine manufacturing, with close to 90 percent of medicines consumed in sub-Sahara Africa being imported at a cost of $14 billion annually.
Africa sources more than 75 percent of its pharmaceuticals from European Union, India and China.
In sub-Saharan Africa, only Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have a relatively sizeable industry, producing for the local market and export to neighbouring countries.