Twitter space: The Africa Health Agenda: Is Africa ready for a future pandemic
Theme: “Is Africa ready for the next pandemic?”
Africa, a continent of 54 countries with about 1.2 billion people, produces only 1% of the vaccines it administers. The remaining 99% are imported. Most come from international procurement mechanisms, such as one organised through the United Nations children’s charity UNICEF. Until recently, there were only ten vaccine manufacturers across five African countries –Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia – jointly producing a tiny fraction of the continent’s needs. Most of these countries have undertaken so-called fill-and-finish packaging and labelling with very limited upstream production of antigen formulations, principally due to a lack of local scientific capacity, along with weaknesses in the commodity supply chain. These obstacles need to be removed for the independence and sustainability of production in Africa. Other key barriers include regulatory hindrances, powerful trade blocs, scarcity of potential purchasers, competition with subsidised markets, political instability, geographical and logistical challenges, lack of sustainable financing mechanisms and low economic purchasing power.
Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity does not match the severity of its vaccine-preventable disease burden. With the inability to produce its own, Africa has ended up at the back of the queue for lifesaving vaccines like the coronavirus jabs. The figures speak for themselves: Less than 12% of the African population is fully vaccinated compared with about 71% of the population in Europe. The COVID-19 pandemic systematically exposed these weaknesses and flaws in current health systems of different countries on the African continent. It also further exposed the looming inequitable access to health and the strong influence of the Global North on the health systems in Africa.
Africa’s position in the current global health environment is critical as is evidenced by the underdeveloped capacity of member states to conduct Afrocentric research, development and manufacturing of vaccines. Continental oversight bodies lack the necessary resources to institutionalize vaccine development and are heavily reliant on the Global North.
The Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC2023)brings together most prominent African voices that will challenge the status quo and find solutions for building resilient health systems in Africa. In a time where many global health convening systemically discriminate and diminish the contributions of Africans, AHAIC is committed to be global south inclusive.
It is upon this background that Ahaki is convening a virtual side event to bring together prominent practitioners, advocates, policy makers, activists among other stakeholders in the field of vaccine research and development and advocacy to contribute to the on-going conversations on sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa for Global health security and Africa’s readiness for the next pandemic.
Objectives of the side event;
To contribute to the ongoing conversations on sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa for Global health security.
To assess Africa’s readiness for the next pandemic through sharing regional experiences and possible solutions to addressing the existing gaps.
Increased policy debate on sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa for Global health security.
Unified regional and global voices towards addressing the existing gaps in ensuring Africa is prepared for the next pandemic.
Delivery of the side event and target audience
The side event will be convened virtually through a Twitter space conversation. This Space will target prominent practitioners, advocates, policymakers, and activists, among other stakeholders in the field of vaccine research and development and advocacy.
Date and duration of the side event
Monday 6th March 2023 (6 – 8p.m EAT).