We’ll prioritise access to COVID-19 vaccine – AU

The African Union will continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce Coronavirus Disease vaccines in Africa.

The union made the commitment at a recent global conference with several African Heads of State, as well as health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, to accelerate African vaccine development and manufacturing capacity.

The two-day meeting was saddled with discussions around the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent and the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public health security.

The resolution was that there was need to prioritise vaccine access and production for the continent.

Thus far, only about two per cent of the world’s vaccination against COVID-19 has taken place in Africa, as the region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a scramble among wealthier nations for the medicines.

In his opening remark at the virtual roundtable convened by AU, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, said, “The production of and access to vaccines are an absolute priority.”

The African Development Bank representative, Solomon Quaynor, who is AfDB’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation, noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment.

“Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive, but an institutional drive,” Quaynor remarked on behalf of AfDB’s President, Akinwumi Adesina.

He disclosed, “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,” whom he said had expressed strong political will to the vision.

This vision aligns with its “industrialise Africa” priority strategy, the AfDB representative at the meeting added.

He explained that the vision would build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity.

According to Quaynor, Africa could count on the AfDB’s support to secure its health defence system.

“Leveraging our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to the private sector and PPPs both 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 Development Financial Institutions into bankable opportunities,” he stated.

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 added.

Ehime Alex
Ehime Alex
Ehime Alex reports the Capital Market, Energy, and ICT. He is a skilled webmaster and digital media enthusiast.

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