Strengthening Vaccine Manufacturing Through Collaboration
At the 24th Annual General Meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) held at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, Deputy President Paul Mashatile addressed an audience of over 300 delegates representing more than 40 vaccine manufacturers from 15 developing nations. Mashatile’s speech highlighted the significance of collaboration and partnerships in accelerating sustainable regional vaccine manufacturing through global alliances.
This important event, which was co-organized by Biovac, a South African vaccine company, and DCVMN, demonstrated the commitment of various countries to global health and their determination to enhance international public health. The theme “Accelerating Sustainable Regional Vaccine Manufacturing through Global Partnerships” serves as a guiding principle for ensuring equitable access to vaccines worldwide, particularly for disadvantaged communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of healthcare systems and the global vaccine supply chain. It has also underscored the urgent need for self-reliance in vaccine production and pandemic preparedness. Africa, like many regions, faced challenges in obtaining sufficient vaccine supplies during the pandemic, underlining the importance of strong regional production capabilities.
Developing Skills in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Mashatile acknowledged the crucial role of the pharmaceutical industry in safeguarding public health and encouraged professionals to continually enhance their skills to develop innovative solutions in a rapidly evolving world. Skill development, adaptability, and a mindset geared towards lifelong learning are essential for meeting patient needs and industry standards.
The South African government emphasized the necessity of addressing skill shortages in the economy and implementing intervention plans for human resource development. By investing in skill development, the pharmaceutical industry can contribute to the advancement of public health and the improvement of countless lives.
Africa has made significant strides towards self-sufficiency in vaccine manufacturing and pandemic preparedness through the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacture (PAVM), which is coordinated by the Africa CDC. Mashatile called for support for the PAVM’s ambitious objective of manufacturing 60% of vaccines on the continent by 2040. South African companies Biovac, Aspen, and Afrigen have also invested in expanding vaccine production capabilities.
Advancing the African Pharmaceutical Industry
South Africa is proud to host the WHO mRNA Hub at Afrigen, with Biovac scheduled to be the first beneficiary of this state-of-the-art technology. This capability, along with the oral cholera vaccine project being developed by Biovac, will enable vaccine drug substance production, which is currently lacking in the country and the continent.
Mashatile emphasized the necessity for a coordinated effort to tap into the immense talent, expertise, and resources in Africa. He urged investment in the development of the pharmaceutical industry, including research and development capabilities, to achieve self-reliance and pandemic preparedness.
Collaboration with the global community, including the DCVMN, is crucial for technology, knowledge, and expertise transfer. By forging partnerships, Africa can create a thriving pharmaceutical industry that addresses domestic needs and contributes to the global fight against infectious diseases.
Mashatile underscored the importance of collaboration among African countries and the global community in achieving ambitious objectives. As the delegates discussed ways to accelerate sustainable regional vaccine manufacturing, Mashatile expressed optimism for productive and constructive conversations that would result in positive outcomes for the continent.
The DCVMN Annual General Meeting serves as a potent reminder of the importance of global partnerships, skill development, and collaboration in addressing the challenges posed by pandemics and building a brighter future for Africa, where it can be a producer and advocate of its own health and well-being.