By Samuel Ouma
Kenya is set to start local manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines by April next year as it seeks to cushion its citizens from future supply hitches.
Speaking in Machakos, Eastern part of the country, during the inauguration of the new Kenya Biovax Institute board, Health cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe 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 pandemic that left the country as well as the continent grossly exposed from shortage of vaccines.
“As you already know, we currently import over 70% 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. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges associated with lack of local capacity in this area,” Kagwe told the board.
The CS said the local manufacturing of highly specialized Healthcare products by institutions such as the Kenya Biovax Institute will be a significant step towards self-sustenance in supply and availability of medical commodities.
“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 disease outbreaks that may arise in the future,” observed Kagwe.
The health CS says the venture will kick off with a form and fill facility at the production plant located at the new KEMSA headquarters in Embakasi Nairobi which will help third parties put vaccines from the main manufacturers into vials before packaging them for distribution.
“It is safe to say that the basic legal and industrial requirements for local fill and finish manufacturing of vaccines have been largely achieved. The development of wholly local vaccine production process has been initiated with support of KEMRI who will remain the main partner in capacity building”, said the health CS.