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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Local production of medicines critical in building a resilient health system

Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

IN the face of emerging pandemics, African countries have been challenged to create partnerships to manufacture vaccines that will make health systems resilient.

With over 100 health emergencies being recorded in Africa every year, calls for the continent to strengthen its health pandemic prevention and response strategies are growing stronger.

Speaking at the ongoing annual International Conference for Public Health in Africa in Lusaka, Zambia this Tuesday, Africa Centres for Disease Control Director General, Dr Jean Kaseya stressed on the need for Africa to manufacture its own medicines and vaccines.

“Local manufacturing is the second independence of Africa. In as far as our countries got their independence more than two decades ago, but we saw with COVID-19 that all the other continents can lock their door and we are on our own we saw with COVID-19 that Africa countries struggled to get what others were calling appropriate vaccines . Then we decided to create a programme called partnerships for African vaccine manufacturing. The objective of this programme is to manufacture at least 60 percent of vaccines that we need to use in Africa,” he said.

Dr Celestino Dhege from Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care also weighed in, adding that the local production of medicine will translate to a reduction in prices.

“Infectious diseases are very common in Africa so the common counter measures that you need in managing infectious diseases are vaccines and also antibiotics. It is important that Africa produces its own vaccines. We can then customise vaccines to meet the conditions that we have in Africa.

“It is also important because we will also reduce the cost and we can also capacitate our people because we can also create employment during the production of these vaccines and medicines.”

Currently, only one percent of vaccines used on the continent are manufactured in Africa.

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