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Why launch Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator in Paris?

Why launch Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator in Paris?

What is the Africa Vaccine Manufacturing Accelerator (AVMA)? 

Gavi, the global vaccines alliance, is set to launch the AVMA as a new innovative financing instrument to help grow vaccines manufacturing capacity and capability in Africa. It is designed to make up to US$1 billion available over the next 10 years to support the sustainable growth of Africa's manufacturing base. Read more about the AVMA and how it will work here.

Why is this important?

The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world how important it is for countries to have access to vaccine manufacturing. The countries and regions that had the strongest research and manufacturing, alongside regulations for the vaccine manufacturing industry, were the first to get access to COVID-19 vaccines. Other regions, and particularly Africa, were 'locked out' of this process for the early pandemic stages. Read more about this and Amref's campaign for Vaccine Solidarity with Africa here.

"No region felt the negative effects of COVID-19 vaccine inequity more than Africa. And no region stands to benefit more from sustainable growth in its vaccine manufacturing sector." Gavi, the Global Vaccines Alliance 

What is happening now?

The launch of the AVMA and Gavi’s Investment Opportunity for 2026-2030 is scheduled for 20 June 2024. This is scheduled to take place in Paris. A critical question emerges: Why is an initiative focused on Africa’s vaccine manufacturing being launched in Paris rather than on the African continent? While France’s co-hosting alongside the African Union and Gavi is well-intentioned, the decision to hold the launch in Paris represents a significant missed opportunity to localise this vital initiative within Africa.

Localisation and leadership

“Africa is striving to enhance its vaccine manufacturing capabilities, and hosting the launch on African soil would be a powerful symbol of the continent’s ownership and leadership in the initiative. It would promote localisation and underscore its commitment and proactive stance, resonating globally and sending a clear message that Africa is not merely a beneficiary but a leader in its health future,” said Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa, during the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

“We have to realize that the community is where the power is based. To serve the communities better, we must shift our mindset and give up our power. That is the challenge of localization: surrendering power makes us feel vulnerable and uncomfortable,” he added.

Missed opportunities: Engagement and ownership

Launching the AVMA in Africa would facilitate greater local engagement from stakeholders across the continent, including governments, health officials, manufacturers, scientists, civil society organizations, and the private sector.

By being more accessible, it would encourage robust discussions and collaborations directly relevant to Africa’s unique challenges and opportunities, driven by stronger local media coverage.

In turn, this would raise awareness, generate greater public interest within the continent, and build momentum and public support for the initiative. This would transform the narrative towards African innovation and capability in addressing public health challenges, promoting social accountability and inspiring pride among African communities.

Additionally, the launch would be an excellent opportunity to further mobilize African nations to support the Africa Medicines Agency (AMA), which plays a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment for vaccine manufacturing by providing regulatory oversight, facilitating capacity building, and fostering collaboration among stakeholders.

The upward trajectory

Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capability is rapidly advancing, marked by significant milestones and robust initiatives. South Africa’s Biovac Institute partners with global pharmaceutical companies to produce and distribute vaccines, while the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, is renowned for its yellow fever vaccine production. Egypt’s Vacsera is also expanding its facilities to increase vaccine production capacity. These local initiatives exemplify Africa’s commitment to build a resilient, self-sufficient vaccine supply chain, ensuring better health outcomes and fostering economic growth across the continent.

An African venue for the launch would provide an ideal platform to showcase these existing hubs and potential local manufacturing capacities, building confidence among international partners and investors in Africa’s ability to scale up vaccine production. Highlighting local facilities and innovations would demonstrate that Africa is ready and capable of handling such a critical initiative, fostering a sense of pride and accomplishment.

While logistical and diplomatic considerations may drive the decision to launch the AVMA in Paris, it misses a crucial opportunity to strengthen localisation. By hosting the launch in Africa, organisers would reinforce the continent’s ownership, facilitate greater local engagement, showcase capacity, and foster trust and collaboration. This alignment with the AVMA’s objectives would ensure its impact is deeply rooted in the context it aims to serve.

Indeed, this is the spirit that underlies the view of H.E. Dr Jean Kaseya, the Director General of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), when he aptly captures the agenda of local manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics in Africa as ‘Africa’s second independence’.

Dr Gitahi speaks on giving up power at the Devex Check-Up session at WHA77

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