The Director General of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), H.E. Dr Jean Kaseya, has called for concerted efforts to protect the African population and ensure citizens have access to high quality health products through strengthening local manufacturing.
This, he said, can happen if Africa must decrease its dependence on global agreements, and resolve the persistent inequities in access to health products and acute challenges in supply chain systems during health emergencies.
Speaking at the Presidential opening of Africa Health ExCon-2023 in Cairo, Egypt, Dr Kaseya lamented the fragility and failures of international cooperation systems, especially when the world is collectively faced with a common threat, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
He revealed that after almost 3 years of dealing with this global health challenge, COVID-19 has demonstrated that Africa faces an uncertain future, where anticipation of, preparedness and response to, as well as resilience to major shocks must become the core of a joint collaborations and coordination.
“Africa has been let down by the multilateral system, this is not new with COVID-19 vaccinations but also time and time again, we have seen inequitable access with therapeutics and diagnostics. We cannot afford to continuously see Africa being left behind or at the back of the queue with lifesaving medical countermeasures”, Dr Kaseya insisted.
The Director General disclosed that ensuring change in direction for Africa health security consistent with Agenda2063, the African Union Heads of State and Governments (HoSG), have adopted a new road map for the continent, which calls for a New public Health order for Africa, to rejuvenate the Global Health Security Agenda.
This road map, ensures that Africa must collectively strengthen institutional capacity-building initiatives that support public health, build the capacities and capabilities of all health workers, promote innovative domestic financing mechanisms including public-private partnerships and most importantly expand Local Manufacturing of Health Products on the continent.
As a key step toward achieving this agenda, Heads of State of the AU gathered in April 2021 and established The Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM), to ensure coordination of efforts and deliver a bold goal for the continental health manufacturing industry; to develop, produce, and supply over 60 percent of the total vaccine doses required on the continent by 2040.
The establishment of PAVM has facilitated a robust continental strategy adapted to regional specifics—a Framework for Action (FFA), which guides Africa CDC in its engagements with stakeholders across the continent to lay out the key interventions required to enable the development of a sustainable vaccine manufacturing industry in Africa since then.
The Director General further emphasized that local manufacturing of medical products presents an opportunity to strengthen economic growth, bolster health security, and improve health outcomes.
Stressing the increasing need for long-term investments by AU Member States and coordinated initiatives to strengthen the manufacturing ecosystem, enhance supply security, strengthen regulatory systems, and build sustainable market demand.
He assured that Africa CDC will continue to engage with Member States, private sectors in the pharmaceutical industry on the continent as well as partners to accelerate the capacity of countries to locally produce the vaccines needed through the PAVM platform.
Dr Kaseya acknowledged the efforts of the Egyptian government to convene stakeholders in the public and private sectors to discuss the needs to ensure demand certainty and prioritization of procuring locally manufactured health product technologies. He particularly congratulated H.E President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and the Egyptian pharma business sector for the leadership and quick steps in using COVID-19 challenges to build internal capacities in vaccine manufacturing, and for the vision to lunch Africa Health ExCon; a platform which promotes health technology & innovation, pharmaceutical capacities, and encourages collaboration and health trade in Africa.
“We have a strong belief that whatever good capacities and capabilities we have in Egypt, it is not only for Egypt, it is for all of Africa; the same in other AU Member States. We at Africa CDC commit ourselves to provide the needed support and work closely to support the Egyptian government and other African countries in positioning Africa as a hub for Health innovation, production, and trade,” Dr Kaseya pledged.