June 15, 2024

Kenya Set to Manufacture Vaccines Locally

KEMRI Ag. DG Prof Elijah Songok and his Biovax counterpart Dr Mchael Lusiola chief executive Officer/Director exchange aigned MOU for intended Vaccine manufacturing Collaboration (Photo By Mwakwaya Raymond)

By Mwakwaya Raymond

Email: thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Kenya is out to revamp its medical sector and start manufacturing of vaccines after donor-partners threatened to withdraw their support come 2027.

Through Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), the body mandated to conduct research on human health, is currently working on a child immunization vaccine that will be the first to be manufactured locally once the donor pulls out completely.

In an memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by KEMRI and the manufacturing body Biovax on August 30, 2023 at KEMRI- Wellcome Trust Kilifi, the two bodies agreed to jointly undertake a number aspects that will help to actualise manufacturing of vaccines locally for measles or polio.

This will require KEMRI to support Kenya BioVax in research and development (R & D) of selected health product and technologies (HPTs) especially vaccines and other biotherapeutics.

KEMRI Ag. DG Prof Elijah Songok and his Biovax counterpart Dr Mchael Lusiola chief executive officer/director also agreed the former will provide technical advice to Biovax on potential health products and technologies production in response to forecasted epidemics and pandemics.

Presenting the Key highlights of the MoU Dr. James Kimotho H.o.D Innovation and Technology Transfer indicated that two bodies agreed to collaborate to enable technical and operational knowledge exchange and capacity building opportunities.

Between the two health institutions collaboration in preparation and submission of funding, they will as well avail access to each other’s physical premises such as laboratory facilities under specified terms and when in need to carry out health product research, development or quality control.

KEMRI board of directors chair Dr Abdullahi Ali welcomed the collaboration saying government is working tirelessly to ensure the country develops and produces its own vaccines as informed by the aftermath of COVID -19, where African countries were not on priority list to access COVID-19 vaccines.

According to Biovax chairman Mugo Kibati who was also present at the signing of the MOU, the partnership is in line with the government’s agenda of advancing the economic pillar of local manufacturing and the development objective on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). 

KEMRI Director Dr Hon, Damaris Maweu was also in attendance at the KEMRI Biovax MoU signing in ceremony.

Global Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) is the organization that has been supporting Kenya and other countries to access affordable vaccines for their immunization programs although it shall cease in 2027.

In another function in Mombasa County last week, Elgeyo Marakwet governor Wisley Rotich told the youth the government would set aside funds to finance HIV programs once the donor funds stop supporting the programme.

“As we source for other alternatives lets also utilize what we already have by making prudent priorities in whatever we do especially when funding the HIV Programs,” he said.

Dr Isaac Chome of health foundation coast region says HIV studies show 10 out of 100 women infect their kids with HIV virus while giving birth.

According to him infection among the youth has gone up tremendously in recent years with Mombasa County having the highest number of infected youths.

Samburu and Lamu are other counties that already have high HIV prevalence rates stand out to be adversely affected once the donors stop pumping money to fight the scourge.

Michael Lusiola, the Biomax director general, says they will test their first locally manufactured vaccine in 2025-2026 period.

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