Gavi Urged to Buy At Least 30% of Vaccines From African Manufacturers
Africa CDC’s acting Director General, Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma

Global vaccine purchasing mechanisms including Gavi and the United Nations have been urged to purchase a minimum of 30% of their vaccines from African manufacturers, according to a resolution, Call to Action: Africa’s new public health order adopted by African member states on the sidelines of the recent United Nations general assembly (UNGA).

The resolution, championed by the African Union Commission and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), argues that vaccine-purchasing mechanisms can stimulate private sector investment in vaccine manufacturing.

While Africa currently produces only 1% of its routinely used vaccines, the continent has set a bold target of meeting up to 60% of its vaccine demand through regional manufacturing by 2040.

The full implementation of Africa’s New Public Health Order will drive global health security, according to Africa CDC which presented the call to governments, multilateral organizations, philanthropies, the private sector, and civil society organizations on the sidelines of the 77th UNGA.

Africa CDC’s acting Director General, Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, revealed the five pillars for the order including strong African public health institutions that represent African priorities in global health governance, and expanded manufacturing of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics to “democratize” access to life-saving medicines and equipment. 

Other pillars include investment in public health workforce and leadership programs to ensure Africa has the workforce it needs to address health threats; and increased domestic investment in health, including the domestic mobilization of financial resources, human capital, technical resources.

Africa’s current ratio of 1.55 health workers (physicians, nurses, and midwives) per 1,000 people is way below the WHO recommendation of at least 4.45 health workers per 1,000 people to deliver essential health services and achieve universal health coverage. 

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described health workers as a “crucial pillar” in a well-functioning health system. Yet, they have been historically deprioritized in discussions about improving health systems. He described investing in the health workforce as good economics whose return will be “measurable and dependable”.

“Experience shows that professional community health workers who are properly paid, trained, equipped, and supervised are best prepared to provide essential health services in their communities,” said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

She also highlighted that most community health workers in Africa are women who perform exceptional work but are unpaid for their efforts. “It is time to correct this injustice,” she urged.

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