The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) with support from the European Union (EU) and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) under the Team Europe Initiative (TEI) is set to implement Africa's first-ever major strategic intervention in domestic vaccine production.
The 27-months project, from April 2022 to June 2024, with a total funding support of over EUR 2.8 million will cover the regulation of manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines, and health technologies (MAV+) in Africa.
The ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed gaps in national health systems and brought many lessons to the fore hence the need to build a robust health system. About five million lives have already been lost globally to the pandemic (WHO, 2021).
Other adverse impacts include job losses, high cost of living, loss of public revenue, and economic decline (World Bank, 2021). As a measure to protect citizens against the pandemic, vaccines have now become a high priority on the agenda of many governments globally.
This project forms an integral part of a 10-year overall roadmap intended to make Ghana a Vaccine Manufacturing Hub in the sub-region. Thus, the Government of Ghana has already committed an amount of US$ 25 million in seed money to the overall vaccine manufacture initiative and established a National Vaccine Production Committee under the chairmanship of the world-renowned scientist, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng to formulate a concrete plan for vaccine development and manufacturing in Ghana.
This partnership between the EU, GIZ and FDA will facilitate the upgrade and strengthening of the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority in its regulatory functions to support the production of various vaccines, including Ghana's first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to help bridge the gaps in vaccine demand and delivery in Africa. This project among others will seek to assist the FDA to attain Level 4 of the WHO's Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) and the upgrade of the FDA's pharmaceutical microbiology laboratory to a biosafety Level 3 to support and improve the quality and safety of locally manufactured vaccines to meet WHO and international standards.
As a result of the pivotal role the FDA plays in the realization of the goal to develop vaccines in Africa, the Authority on 31st March 2022 received a delegation from the EU led by the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen to reaffirm the EU-Ghana partnership and assess Ghana's readiness to undertake this project. This is expected to help build FDA's institutional capacity and strengthen its inspection and licensing operations, as well as its market authorization processes.
Moreso, the project is set to ensure that the FDA has the capacity in terms of facilities and personnel to provide the requisite regulatory framework to enhance Ghana's capacity to produce vaccines domestically to enable the nation to handle any future outbreaks and more importantly reduce Ghana's dependency on other nations for its vaccine supplies with all its attendant challenges.
The FDA exist to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of human and veterinary drugs, food, biological products, cosmetics, medical devices, household chemical substances and clinical trials, and the control of tobacco products through the enforcement of relevant standards to protect public health.