Accra, Ghana: The Vaccine Alliance Board has approved $1 Billion for vaccine manufacturing in Africa to tackle backsliding from the COVID-19 pandemic and be better prepared to respond to future health emergencies.
The fund will initiate the establishment of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA), an innovative financing mechanism aimed at establishing a sustainable African vaccine manufacturing industry capable of improving the region’s resilience in the face of pandemics, outbreaks and other health emergencies.
“Gavi’s Board today approved the establishment of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA), a financing instrument that will make up to US$1 billion available to support sustainable vaccine manufacturing in Africa,” a statement posted on the GAVI website said.
“Efforts to translate pandemic learnings into concrete action further include the establishment of a US$500 million First Response Fund to ensure immediate financing for vaccine response in the event of a future pandemic, as well as extraordinary support for countries to close routine immunization gaps created during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the statement, the Board approved the inclusion of the new multivalent meningococcal vaccine into the Gavi portfolio, as well as the shortlist of new vaccines for Gavi’s next Vaccine Investment Strategy.
The statement added that the approval was a result of more than 18 months of collaboration between Gavi, the African Union, and the Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC).
“The Government of France and Africa CDC, alongside European and international partners, will co-host a high-level event in June 2024 to officially launch the AVMA mechanism, as well as Gavi’s investment case to support its next replenishment.”
Jean Kaseya, Africa CDC Director General, in a Twitter post, said “Proud and grateful for the approval of US$1B for AVMB to African manufacturers by the@gavi Board. We thank the Heads of State and the African Union for their commitment to the goal of manufacturers of at least 60% of vaccines on the continent by 2040. This marks the beginning of Africa’s second independence, ensuring health security, economic growth, and job creation.”
The fund approval comes weeks after the convening of the 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) in Lusaka, Zambia, where vaccine manufacturing was highly discussed. At the confidence, African leaders were urged to invest more in vaccine production to prepare the continent against future pandemics.
Hosted by the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI), and organized by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), with support from the Africa Union (AU), 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA), brought together African Heads of State, ministers of health, scientists, innovators and researchers to highlight gains impact and challenges made on the public in Africa.
“CPHIA 2023 could not be happening at a more important time. African countries have shown extraordinary resilience in the face of recent disease outbreaks, including Ebola, cholera, malaria, and COVID-19. We have shown the world what this continent is truly capable of with fast action and strong leadership,” Dr. Kaseya said.
Africa is one continent with a struggling health system including a lack of funds, poor infrastructure, and limited logistics and health facilities, causing the continent to be vulnerable to epidemics that compare them to relying on Western nations for medicines and vaccines.
Dr. Jean Kaseya recalled that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were inequalities in vaccine distribution from the West because Africa was not producing vaccines to help its citizens fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Africa faces over 100 disease outbreaks every year, translating to an average of 2 outbreaks a week. Outbreaks of diseases like monkeypox and Lassa fever are posing serious threats to our already overburdened health systems and our economies. Pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPPR) are among the top priorities of the Africa CDC. We are supporting Member States to build agile and efficient response mechanisms,” he said.
According to him, the top killers in Africa remain acute respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, malaria, and tuberculosis, collectively accounting for 80% of the infectious disease burden, claiming over 6 million lives each year.”The establishment of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA), will not only prepare the continent for future pandemics but will serve as a hub for disease prevention.