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.
Africa Vaccines Research, Development, Manufacturing and Access Initiative
The CoDA Independent Task Team on the Production, Equitable and Universal Access to Vaccines and Vaccinations in Africa was launched on 21 June 2020 at Igbinedion University Okada, Nigeria, in partnership with Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital.
The task team was established to:
- Support African Union Member States to establish mechanisms for joint public and private sector collaboration towards the manufacturing of essential vaccines and to ensure equitable access and distribution of such vaccines.
- Strengthen ongoing activities to engage private and public tertiary institutions, and the private sector towards supporting essential vaccine manufacturing and related research, procurement and distribution in Africa.
- Advance the efforts of African alliances and networks (e.g. African Health Business, African Research Universities Alliance, Igbinedion University Teaching Hospital, etc.) towards the production of essential vaccines and facilitate equitable access to these vaccines in Africa.
This initiative recognizes other initiatives of the African Union institutions such as Africa CDC, Africa Medicine Agency, and AUDA-NEPAD. It was established within the framework of the African Union Agenda 2063, which seeks to promote pan-Africanism and African renaissance by harnessing the continental endowments embodied in African people, history, cultures, and natural resources to effect equitable and people-centered growth and development on the continent, with Africa taking full responsibility for financing its development.
The initiative partly supports implementation of the “Framework for Fair, Equitable and Timely Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccines in Africa”, an African Union instrument developed by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to take appropriate measures to ensure timely and equitable access to vaccines to safeguard lives and livelihoods in Africa and slow the progression of pandemics and outbreaks.
It provides a platform for the involvement of the African private sector in the development, manufacturing, and distribution of vaccines in Africa and a connection between African policymakers and relevant stakeholders on the issue of vaccines and vaccination.