BY Collins Ajibola
…Government, Private sector partnership cannot be overemphasized Stakeholders are again calling for collaboration between governments and the private sector if Africa must do away with the over dependence on foreign donors and charities to achieve sustainable health growth.
They made this known during one of the Webinar series pit together by the Coalition on Africa Development, (CoDA) heralding the official launch of the Independent Task Team on the development of vaccine and equitable universal access to essential vaccines and vaccination in Africa with the theme: vaccine research and development in Africa: perspectives from the academics.
They stressed that Africa has the capacity and wherewithal to solve it’s own problem if only there is a fruitful and continuous partnership between Governments at all levels and the private sector.
The Executive Director, Coalition on Africa Development, CoDA, Souad Aden Osman, in her opening remarks reiterated that Africans want solution to health crises ravaging the continent. “What Africans are waiting for is not a conversation abroad. We cannot continue to think that we would come out with solutions if we are not asking ourselves the right questions.” She said.
The President, Pan African Manufactures Association, Eng Ahmed Mansur, on his part stressed that the key issues are internalizing the process. ” If Africa is going to solve its own issues, we must do so internally even though we would need others. We have a situation today where other nations smaller than ours are addressing their issue, yet Africa is waiting for others. We must beging to think of providing solutions internally.”
“Interms of production it is imperative that African manufacturing must begin to products what to sustain our economy. To begin to produce what can equate what others produce.””The issue of vaccines by Africa is basically for Africa to own it process, research and development, thinking and distribution. The finances can come from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if we borrow from other people.”
While speaking, an international economist and former Principal Regional Adviser for Development Planning at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Professor Sylvain Boko, added that there must be focus in tackling the issue of vaccines production in Africa. “This is health issue, but we must not forget that vaccine issues is not just health, but economic and business. Health economy is a matter of policy. It is what government must pay attention to. We must not forget that this is the area where Africa as continent will see growth rapidly compared to other nations.”
“This is something Government alone can do. It has to be public Private partnership. The second part is that, that worth of the market being awn away from foreign producers of vaccine is enormous. We must think of how to save from what we can produce within the continent. With the diseases we gave in Africa, the demand for vaccine is huge. So are we going to keep allowing them take us a market.”
“We would save in terms of foreign exchange. The skilled capacity. What they try to tell us in Africa is that the amount to start is insurmountable to start production of vaccine. Now we need just 250 to 300 million dollars to start. We can achieve this.”
“We have the capacity woth the private sectors we have in the continent. Is the amount really unachievable? No. Others have done it. Brazil, India. We can also do it in Africa. We can sit down and say the purse is too high. The co strain is high. That is not sufficient reasoning. We must create the condition for ourselves in Africa. We can do it.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Zimbabwe and a Professor of Robotics and Mechatronics, Professor Arthur Mutambara stated that the covid-19 pandemic has become a wake up call for the continent.
“It has been a wake up call. One lesson is Africa cannot depends on e goodwill of other nations interms of vaccines. We need vaccine self sufficient . Health security is national security. Security requires continental health security.”
“These are the Lessons of Covid-19. We need an African vaccines strategy. We maybe too late about covid, what about malaria, HIV, and sickle cell anemia, other diseases ravaging the continent. We want to have Government create enabling environment for the private sector to play a role in manufacturing of vaccines.”
“To be part of the role out strategy of vaccination. 40 percent of GDP must go to health. We must control the agenda and not continue to depend on donors.”
“Vaccines are not just about health. Me might not get support from the global powers. It is not in their interest. We must pick up lessons from India, Cuba to help ourselves.”
“The African government must spend the 40 percent of GDP on health. The government must create an enabling environment for the private sector. There must be incentives. We must be carried away with freebies that are not freebies.”
“Donors will not encourage you to develop, they will not want you to stop biting from them. Once we get that right we would be able to also supply others. We want GAVI and Global funds to buy from Africa the vaccines manufactured on Africa to market to the other parts of the world.”
Chief medical director of Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital, Consultant hematologist, and stem cell transplantologist, Professor Bazuaye Godwin, in his remarks, stated that the time is not too late for Africa to start towards achieving self reliance in the area of health care.
“There is the Benin proverb that say that whenever you wake up is your morning. Africa has just woken up. The Covid-19 is a wake up call and Africa has woken up now. Everyone needs vaccines. The children needs vaccines immediately after health. Growing up you need vaccines.”
“Over 1.5 billion dollars yearly is what Africa spend on vaccines. We should be able to train African in research, training, manufacturing and production of vaccine. Nothing is wrong with African being an exporter. Nothing is impossible. Most of those in the western world are African who are helping other countries to develop vaccines.”
“We have inaugurated a task team in Okada at the IUTH, with economists, politicians, scientists and experts. Their role is to draw a road map for training, establishment of research centres to make the dream of vaccine production in the continent becomes a reality.”
Doctor Philip Onyebujoh, first ever senior Technical and Policy Adviser to the Director, Africa CDC, and an international Health Consultant affirmed that Africa has the advantage that other countries don’t have. “What gives us the edge is that our continent has the greatest genetic diversity. That gives us an advantage. The genetic means that we have a wider spectrum to look into.” “We need to begin to capture the essence of vaccinology. Development of vaccine is an economic advantage. Africa is posies to be fastest growing continent in the next 10 to 15 years. It is an opportunity for the continent explore.”
“In Africa today the countries closes to the equator has low cases. Moving away the cases are high. That is what we should think. What is helping us as continent. There will be more pandemics in the future. We need to work ahead. If must get it right in Africa, we must get to international standards. We must not cut corners. The credibility will go through the process. Clinical trial and all you have. We have no evidence based proof on why we have low cases in Africa.”
“What we have a conjectures. The environment and genes, some people think it has to do with humidity and population density. Viruses mutate, and so you have to have accurate data through appropriate testing. For instance India. Africa does not have information unlike the west. Data is very important and Africa must do all it can to harvest them for planning.”