Kenya Health CS, Nakhumicha S. Wafula, has emphasized the urgent need to invest in local pharmaceutical products and technologies manufacturing at the Africa Vaccine Supply Manufacturing Forum in Nairobi.
According to the CS, Kenya and Africa at large still faces several challenges that require attention in order to solve and establish a strong and sustainable local manufacturing ecosystem with robust local supply chains.
“In Kenya, developing the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector has been considered a core part of building a progressive and sustainable health-care system that can respond to routine needs and emergencies since the launch of the country’s vision 2030,” The CS said.
The Africa Vaccine Supply Manufacturing forum, which was attended by representatives from various African countries, main agenda dwelt on development of a roadmap for future-proofing vaccine manufacturing supply chains in Africa.
“This initiative is crucial for enhancing preparedness for future outbreaks and ensuring swifter, more equitable vaccine access for affected populations,” The CS said.
She cited challenges such as complexity in transparency of trade regulations linked to the import and trade of input materials and finished products, Lack of expertise and know-how required for product’s market authorization, quality control, and site inspection to follow international standards, Skill gap in the workforce such as industrial pharmacy and lack of collaboration between industry, academia and regulatory bodies to close the local manufacturing gaps.
She also added that raw materials and equipment are not locally manufactured and readily available as well as the high cost of capital and lack of capital investment in support of pharmaceutical manufacturing.
CS Nakhumicha also said that lack of technology transfer from international manufacturers also hinders Kenya’s capability to manufacture health products and technologies locally.
Proposing increased local vaccine production, she highlighted its importance of local manufacturing in enhancing Africa’s response to health emergencies, creating jobs, and fostering innovation.
“We’ve experienced numerous outbreaks in Africa, including Rift Valley fever and, most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic. This underscores the critical need for African countries to invest in local manufacturing, not only for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies but also for vaccines. These vaccines play a crucial role in building resilience within our communities against diseases. It’s imperative that as Africans, we prepare ourselves for future pandemics.” – CS Health
The CS call aligns with efforts to bolster healthcare infrastructure and reduce dependency on external vaccine sources, promising improved resilience and economic development across the continent.