The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the focus as African leaders met at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent.

The meeting, which was attended by several African heads of state as well as health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, highlighted this in his opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union from Monday saying, “The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority.”

A statement released at the end of the meeting revealed that, although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of the world’s vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1 percent of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place.

Currently, Africa lags behind in procuring vaccines as the world scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. This, according to the statement is evident in the low COVID-19 vaccination recorded in the continent. So far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.

The meeting, which also had in attendance officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers and business leaders is seeking ways to turn this around.

In this regard, the African Union and the Africa CDC are saying that they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.

The African Development Bank (AfDB)says it 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, who have expressed a strong political will.

AfDB has a “industrialize Africa” priority strategy, which intends to build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.

The African Development Bank’s Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Solomon Quaynor, who represented the bank at the meeting, said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system.

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 said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.

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