PRESIDENT Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has cut the sod for the construction of DEK Vaccines Manufacturing Factory, a private sector-led consortium of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies in Accra.
The $122.6-million project (first phase) is expected to be completed in two years and will manufacture about 600 million doses of vaccines annually and also provide employment opportunities for more than 250 people.
Among the vaccines to be produced are those recently approved for malaria, and HPV, as well as pneumonia, rotavirus, cholera, and COVID-19.
President Akufo-Addo said with the use of state-of-the-art technology, the facility would have the capacity to make the country realize its dream of becoming self-sufficient in the production of vaccines.
Fulfillment of pledge
He said the establishment of the company and other initiatives in the health sector was in fulfillment of the government’s pledge, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, to see to the manufacture of vaccines in the country.
He said a vaccine manufacturing committee was subsequently set up, leading to the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute, which received seed funding of $25 million from the European Investment Bank.
He said on February 14, 2023, he assented to the National Vaccine Institute Bill enacted by Parliament, adding that the board of directors of the institute would soon be outdoors.
President Akufo-Addo further said the country was venturing into vaccine development and manufacturing with Rwanda and Senegal and expressed the hope that the participating countries would become the vaccine manufacturing hub in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We want to achieve self-sufficiency in vaccine production to meet future national, regional, and continental needs to ensure health security.
This will ensure that in future we shall not be at the mercy of foreign vaccine nationalism and geopolitics,” he said.
According to him, the National Vaccine Institute would coordinate and facilitate work at DEK Vaccines Limited and other domestic pharmaceutical companies, such as Atlantic Life Sciences.
The institute, he added, would also facilitate bilateral and multilateral partnerships for vaccine deployment and manufacturing in the areas of funding, clinical trials, technology transfer, human capital development, licensing, and the assignment of intellectual property rights.
He expressed appreciation to COVAX, the AU, and other donors and suppliers for their various interventions during the crisis period.
The President said the government was also committed to helping upgrade the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) from its current maturity level of three to four to enhance its regulatory capacity for domestic vaccine development and manufacturing.
He said the FDA would also establish a vaccine log release system to strengthen research into and development of vaccines, adding: “We also want to establish a technology transfer partnership in vaccine development and provide in-house and external training programs for staff.”
The European Union Ambassador to Ghana, Irchad Razaaly, said Africa imported 99 percent of its vaccines and 94 percent of its medicines and expressed the hope that with the establishment of the manufacturing plant, the situation would change.
He said the EU was a key supporter in the production of vaccines in Africa and Ghana in particular, adding that the five-million-euro funding from the European Investment Bank to DEK Vaccines was in fulfillment of its pledge.
The Managing Director of DEK Vaccines, Dr. Kofi Nsiah-Poku, said the company had the capacity to produce vaccines for emergency situations.
For his part, the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Nsiah Asare, said local vaccine production was crucial for health security.
Present at the ceremony were some traditional rulers and the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Harriet Thompson.