By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been called upon to fasten the deployment of technology for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine it promised to six African countries.
The Africa Budget Network (AHBN) made the call in a statement in Abuja, weekend.
It would be recalled that the WHO recently announced that six countries in Africa including Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia will receive technology to produce mRNA vaccine.
The WHO explained that the global mRNA technology transfer hub was established in 2021 to support manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines, ensuring that they have all the necessary operating procedures and know-how to manufacture mRNA vaccines at scale and according to international standards.
Primarily set up to address the COVID-19 emergency, the hub has the potential to expand manufacturing capacity for other products as well, putting countries in the driver’s seat when it comes to the kinds of vaccines and other products they need to address their health priorities.
The WHO further said that depending on the infrastructure, workforce and clinical research and regulatory capacity in place, together with partners, it would work with the beneficiary countries to develop a roadmap and put in place the necessary training and support so that they can start producing vaccines as soon as possible.
While applauding the WHO for supporting low-income countries in Africa to be self-reliant in vaccine production, the AHBN said that the move will strengthen the health sector of benefiting countries to enable them fight emerging diseases including epidemics and pandemics beyond COVID-19.
It, therefore, called on the WHO to expedite action to ensure that the mRNA technology is given to the benefiting countries without much delay.
Further recalling that the COVID-9 pandemic has caused so much havoc in all countries, especially, low-income countries, the AHBN expressed optimism that when the technology is deployed in time, it will help the benefiting countries prepare to prevent further devastating effect by other strains of COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.
“The mRNA technology initiative by the WHO is a welcome development. It will help the benefiting countries to defend their people from the vaccine-preventable diseases.
“However, delivering the technology to the benefiting countries in good time will help a lot. It is vital that the WHO consider breaking all barriers and bottlenecks to ensure the technology gets to the six benefiting countries in time.
“The benefiting countries, on the other hand, must ensure that all requirements are satisfied and logistics put in place for the commencement of the production as soon as the technology arrives,” says AHBN Coordinator, Aminu Magashi Garba.
By Dan-Maryam Zayamu