African health experts have projected that the continent will produce sixty per cent of its vaccines locally by 2040.
The practitioners also said the continent could increase its overall capacity for pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent.
According to NAN, this projection was made on the sidelines of the 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) in Kigali, Rwanda which ended on Thursday.
Dr Precious Matsoso, the Co-chair of the international negotiating body of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, said that there was no equitable vaccine distribution during the COVID-19 crisis.
Matsoso also said Africa has issues with the timely availability of vaccines, noting equity had been a problem.
He said: “One of the solutions, according to the UN agency, is to promote technology transfer for African pharmaceutical industries to produce their own drugs and vaccines.
“Some countries have already established pharmaceutical industries, while others inked a deal with their European counterparts to establish vaccine factories.
“So far, Senegal, Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa have partnered with BioNTech to host the manufacturing facilities of Pfizer vaccine.
“This is through an initiative coordinated by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African centres for disease control (CDCs) to boost the production capacity of the continent in developing medicines and drugs.”
Reacting, Prof. Padmashree Gehl Sampath, the Special Advisor to the President of the African Development Bank on Pharmaceutical and Health, said that financial investments into specific projects might hinder the expectation.
He also said that this coupled with technical assistance on a product-by-product basis alone would not be enough to reach the objectives of the African Union (AU) commission and CDC.
Padmashree, also Director of Global Access in Action at Harvard University, told delegates that African firms have difficulties in accessing technologies, transacting from these technologies and also in searching for technologies when they start embarking on production.
“They actually need to look for available options out there to know how to choose what they really need and how they can partner with other firms; and how they can licence what they have.
“Without technology, you can’t do pharmaceutical manufacturing; the African firms are stacked at the lowest level of the value chain,” she said.
According to the bank’s senior official, one of the major issues facing the African pharmaceutical industry is technology, and it is challenging to upgrade to the plant level without the technological absorption capacity.
“This is not an issue for firms alone, the partnership with universities, research centres, and skills are needed to achieve this goal,” she also said.
In June, the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF).
According to AfDB President, Akinwunmi Adesina, APTF has the mandate of Revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructures.
Ms Birgit Pickel, the Director General for Africa at the Germany Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, pointed out that facilitating more partnerships with African counterparts in pharmaceutical industries.
According to her, it will benefit not only vaccine manufacturing, but also the whole pharmaceutical industry value chain production.
Also, Prof. Frederick Abbott, Eduard Ball Eminent Scholar Professor, Florida State University, U.S., told delegates that the sustainable funding for the initiative was critical, especially during the technology transfer.
CPHIA is an annual event that provides a unique platform that brings together African researchers, policymakers and stakeholders to share perspectives and research findings in public health.
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