Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation on Friday announced that Nigeria, South Africa and four other countries are among the first African countries to receive the technology needed for the production of mRNA vaccines.
The other countries are Egypt, Kenya, Senega and Tunisia. This decision was reached after the countries applied and were selected as recipients.
Ghebreyesus disclosed this at a ceremony hosted by the European Council, France, South Africa and WHO in the presence of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
According to the global health agency, the WHO mRNA technology transfer hub is part of a larger effort aimed at empowering low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines, medicines and diagnostics to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage
To support the recipient countries to build the capacity needed for the production of the vaccines, the UN health agency said it has been working to establish a bio-manufacturing workforce training hub that will train people from all interested countries in scientific and clinical research and production capacity.
The training hub will be announced in the coming weeks.
Speaking on this, Ghebreyesus declared it is dangerous to rely on a few companies to supply global public goods describing it as limiting and dangerous.
He said, “No other event like the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that reliance on a few companies to supply global public goods is limiting, and dangerous.
“In the mid-to-long term, the best way to address health emergencies and reach universal health coverage is to significantly increase the capacity of all regions to manufacture the health products they need, with equitable access as their primary endpoint.”
On his part, the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, said, “This is an initiative that will allow us to make our own vaccines, and that, to us, is very important.
“It means mutual respect, mutual recognition of what we can all bring to the party, investment in our economies, infrastructure investment, and, in many ways, giving back to the continent.”