Kenya’s Ministry of Health plans to set up a vaccine manufacturing plant has received a boost with the Chinese government now promising to join in the efforts.
Through a medical firm dubbed China National Biotech Group, a subsidiary of China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation (SINOPHARM), the Chinese government says that it has set aside over Ksh1 billion that will help in the construction of a vaccine manufacturing plant.
The firm’s East Africa region managing director Jimmy Wu Hongjon said the setting up of the vaccine production plant was meant to address the vulnerability of the country to future health emergencies as was evident during the Coronavirus period that left the country as well as the continent grossly exposed from shortage of vaccines.
Hong Jon said the presence of the company will also help mitigate logistical challenges most countries in the continent are facing, including transportation and higher costs.
“The Local production of human vaccines will support public healthcare programmes, National and regional economic growth, National security as well as enhance the capacity to control disèase outbrèaks that may arise in the future,” he said.
Early this year Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the local manufacturing of highly specialized healthcare products will be a significant step towards self-sustenance in supply and availability of medical commodities.
“As you already know, we currently import over 70 percent of the country’s medical products, including Vaccines and Biologicals. This sometimes means that we are unable to access these essential supplies due to logistical issues not forgetting that importation consumes a significant chunk of our health budget. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the challenges associated with lack of local capacity in this area,” he said.
Kagwe said that the country has already initiated negotiations with a host of countries as well as vaccine manufacturing companies to actualize the plan that will see the establishment of a full-fledged bulk antigen production facility with a capacity to produce different types of vaccines.
The country is also working on capacity building with a focus on research and development.
Kenya has previously received numerous doses of the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines to boost its fight against the virus.
According to the National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan, Kenya aims to have fully-fledged vaccine manufacturing capability by 2024.