On the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly, world leaders have highlighted the urgent need to intensify pharmaceutical production on the continent.The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines was used as a pretext to show that Africa cannot outsource its health supply to the rest of the world without “strengthening” its pharmaceutical capacity.
“We need to strengthen the continent’s internal manufacturing capacity. We need to secure ourselves,” the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwumi Adesina said Tuesday at a panel on closing the health gap.
According to him, one of the biggest lessons from this pandemic is “the need for Africa to rely on itself.” Therefore, the banking institution said in the statement seen by APA that it “will contribute to the establishment of a pharmaceutical industry in Africa over the next ten years with a financing of three billion U.S. dollars.”
COVID-19 has caused unprecedented economic losses and destroyed health care systems in Africa. According to WTO Director, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala intellectual property rights and lack of raw materials made it even more difficult for African countries to access the pharmaceutical industry.
“We are taking action. The supply chains for vaccines are very complicated (…). We need to lift restrictions so that manufacturers can get what they need. We need to allow technology transfer. We can’t be selfish. Lives are at stake,” said the former Nigerian minister.
She therefore advocated convincing countries with surplus vaccines to donate them to the COVAX initiative. On the other hand, she called for “convincing richer countries to trade places on the waiting list for vaccines” against coronavirus.
The 76th UN General Assembly is taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit African economies hard. Continental GDP contracted by 2.1 percent in 2020, down 6.1 percentage points from pre-crisis outlooks.
Only a few countries have met their commitment to devote at least 15 percent of their budgets to maintaining an adequate health system.