Zambia: CPHIA23 – Zambia Seeks to Host Cholera Vaccine Production Hub

The Africa-CDC DG, Mr Kaseya, has said less than 1 per cent of vaccines, 5 per cent of diagnostics and 30 per cent of therapeutics used in Africa are currently manufactured in Africa.

The President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, has appealed to the leadership of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC), to establish the region’s indigenous cholera vaccine production hub in his country.

Mr Hichilema said this at the ongoing 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA), noting that Zambia’s strategic location and commitment to health equity make it an ideal candidate to host such a facility, catalyzing improved health outcomes across Africa.

He said he anticipates a world where no one succumbs to preventable diseases like cholera, malaria, or any other illness.

“We must ensure that no one dies from a preventable disease,” he said.

He noted that cholera has plagued Zambia since 1977, with Lusaka as one of the primary outbreak hotspots.

“However, research indicates that beyond Lusaka and other known hotspots, all high-risk districts in Zambia share borders with neighbouring countries,” he said.

Benefits of local manufacturing of healthcare needs

Meanwhile, health experts have listed the benefits of local manufacturing of vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and other medical products.

Speaking at the event holding in Lusaka, Zambia, the Director-General of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC), Jean Kaseya, said ensuring that Africa can manufacture its own vaccines will represent the second independence of the region.

Mr Kaseya said increased local manufacturing of vaccines, medications, and diagnostics is one important way to improve public health across Africa.

He said excessive dependence on imports for essential healthcare products is a matter of grave concern to the African region.

He noted that less than 1 per cent of vaccines, 5 per cent of diagnostics and 30 per cent of therapeutics used in Africa are currently manufactured in Africa.

This imbalance, he said underscores the urgent need to strengthen Africa’s medical manufacturing capabilities to enhance self-reliance and reduce vulnerability to supply disruptions.

“As I have to say it, local manufacturing is the 2nd independence of Africa, because it will mitigate our reliance on external sources, build our health security, promote local innovation, and lead to job creation, economic growth, peace and security,” he said.

“Many African countries got their independence in the 1960s, but we saw in COVID-19 that we are not independent,”.

Vaccine production

Mr Kaseya said the Africa CDC is advocating for an ambitious agenda that aims to ensure that by 2040, a minimum of 60 per cent of vaccines and medicines used in Africa are manufactured on the continent.

He said the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) is driving the ambition, which he noted has received huge support from the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI).

He noted that Gavi’s policy committee has approved a $1 billion investment in a partnership with the Africa CDC to support the development of African vaccine manufacturers.

Others speak

In his address at the opening plenary, Norwegian Ambassador for Global Health, John-Arne Røttingen, said improving manufacturing “isn’t enough,” noting that Africa needs to build an entire “biomedical system”.

Mr Røttingen said that global health had come a long way since the era of colonial researchers but that this process of “decolonisation” needed one more step – “African health research systems led by Africans”.