Ghana will produce vaccines for the first time in the next year or two, hopefully, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the Presidential Advisor on Health, has indicated.
He said government was working hard to improve the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to level four, which was the highest and maturity level to improve on the vaccine production for COVID-19 and other Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) vaccines.
â€œGhana is doing very well on the EPI sector that is why we hardly see cases of measles in our various hospitals,â€ he said.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said this during a panel discussion organised by the German Development Cooperation in collaboration with the Presidential Vaccine Manufacturing Committee to commemorate World Health Day celebration and the anniversary of the founding of World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948.
The event was themed; “Two-years of COVID-19 Management in Ghana: Lessons and Interventions towards a better Ghana.”
He noted that, Africa with a population of about 1.3 billion, produced only one per cent of the vaccines used in the continent, adding that the remaining 99 per cent were imported.
To reverse that trend, the African Union (AU) decided to produce a lot of vaccines in the country to reduce the gap to at least 60 per cent local production, and 40 per cent import by 2040, he said.
The Presidential Advisor noted that the desire for Ghana to become a house for vaccine production, he said, was in three categories, that is, the short term, medium term, and long term.
Dr Nsiah-Asare explained that the short term, which was the first two years would see the manufacturing of at least COVID and other vaccines, the medium term, up to five years, â€œwe will improve the FDA to the extent that we can then do at least EPI vaccines.â€
â€œThe long term would be when we produce our own candidate vaccine so that Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, and Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research (KCCR) can boast of manufacturing vaccine for this pandemic,â€ he added.
Dr Nsiah-Asare lauded the donor organisations, especially GIZ and the Germans for supporting the initiative with five million Euros to start with for the next three years.
He said the government was working through the private sector, from consortium of pharmaceutical companies, to execute the initiative.
â€œGhana can turn this crisis into opportunities by strengthening the infrastructure, finance, and barriers to our health systems,â€ Dr Nsiah-Asare indicated.
Dr Oliver Commey, the Head of Infectious Diseases Centre, during the discussions, noted that managing a pandemic was very expensive and thus called for a national fund to enable the country to deal with future pandemics.
Dr Angela Ama Ackon, the Technical Advisor for Essential Medicines, World Health Organisation, called for the need to strengthen Ghanaâ€™s health systems to improve healthcare delivery.