In early 2021, CoDA launched its public health initiatives in response to clarion calls for equitable distribution and access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics in Africa, extending its raison d’être to hasten efforts to strengthen Africa’s fragile healthcare systems and debilitating dependence on imported medical supplies, equipment, diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals that in the aggregate seriously threaten health security in the continent.
CoDA’s health strategy, which incorporates vaccines, diagnostics, and pharmaceuticals, is consistent with its remit to initiate dialogue leading to action on critical issues impacting development within the continent as stated in Agenda 2063, African Union’s seminal framework to achieve sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic growth. Improving health outcomes of Africans lies squarely within the ambit of this guiding document and underscores the Africa CDC’s ambitious target for indigenous vaccine production to cover 60% of routine continental needs by 2040, and concomitant expansion of Africa’s pharmaceutical production clinical diagnostic capacity.
Pursuant to extensive consultations with academia, policymakers, and stakeholders, CoDA’s Board sanctioned its Secretariat to focus proactively on vaccine availability and the clinical value chain for vaccine manufacture, including research and development, and diagnostics and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Technological transfer through negotiated, strategic, global partnerships committed to building critical capacity for successful and scalable implementation underpins CoDA’s initiatives towards indigenous manufacture of essential vaccines and diagnostics focusing on both communicable and non-communicable diseases of public health significance in response to observed epidemiological and population shifts in the continent.
Clinical diagnostics manufacturing complements essential vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Therefore, among the next steps, CoDA has elected to focus initially on this critical activity to begin to address the lacunas in healthcare delivery through optimizing the availability and use of diagnostic tools on the continent. This will be achieved, in part, by promoting constructive dialogue and debate among AU member states, the private sector, and other stakeholders to identify and agree on concrete strategies and policies to develop and strengthen local manufacture of clinical diagnostics.