The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has broken ground for the construction of a vaccine manufacturing factory in the country.
The construction of the US$122.6 million vaccine plant is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2024, and production will commence in 2025.
The private sector-led project, owned by DEK Vaccines Limited, a consortium of Ghanaian pharmaceutical companies, is expected to produce 600 million doses of vaccines annually.
The vaccines to be manufactured include COVID-19, malaria, HPV, pneumonia, rotavirus, and cholera with the full value chain.
The project has a plan to construct a total of four fill and finish lines that can fill any type of vaccine and provide full-time employment for over 250 people.
In his address preceding the groundbreaking, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the factory would propel the nation to be self-sufficient in the production and manufacturing of vaccines.
“It all started on February 28, 2021, with Update 24 of what has come to be known as the Fellow Ghanaians series of addresses to the nation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when I declared to the Ghanaian people my determination to see to the manufacturing of vaccines here in Ghana,” he recalled.
He stated that the COVID-19 vaccine nationalism exhibited by the developed countries called for urgent action to safeguard Ghana for the unforeseen future.
President Akufo-Addo recalled that, as had “been the norm,” this idea, like the Free Senior High School (Free SHS), was downplayed by a section of the public, who thought it was a lofty idea that could not be implemented.
Regardless of that, he set up a Presidential Vaccine Manufacturing Committee, whose work was to formulate a concrete plan of action towards domestic vaccine development and manufacturing.
The plan of action, the President noted, culminated in the establishment of the National Vaccine Institute in July 2021, with a US$25 million seed investment from the European Investment Bank.
On February 14, 2023, the National Vaccine Institute Bill was enacted by Parliament, which has received presidential assent, and its Board of Directors will be out in the open later.
RETURN TO NORMALCY
President Akufo-Addo recalled the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of lives and businesses, but expressed delight in vaccines savaging the disaster.
According to him, far from viewing the pandemic as a disaster to which the world was powerless, Ghana fully embraced the lessons it taught the nation, including the importance of strengthening its unity and solidarity with countries on the continent.
While acknowledging the vaccines that Africa received from abroad, he noted that Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal are together venturing into development and manufacturing and are determined to become vaccine manufacturing hubs in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In the short term of two years, DEK Vaccines Limited will fill, finish, and package COVID-19 and the other vaccines I have enumerated,” he stated.
In the medium term, five years, President Akufo-Addo said the target is to continue to establish more domestic vaccine manufacturing plants in the country, to produce vaccines to meet WHO standards, and then see to a long-term plan of production in ten years using innovative technology.
In his welcome address, the Managing Director of DEK Vaccines Limited, Pharm., Dr. Kofi Nsiah-Poku, said COVID-19 was “an eye opener” and that the ceremony was taking place as a result of the vision of President Akufo-Addo.
Acknowledging the call by the WHO for the world to prepare for the next pandemic, Dr. Nsiah-Poku assured the gathering that the DEK factory is designed to have a reserved capacity for any emergency or pandemic.”
The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Nsiah Asare, speaking on behalf of the Chairman of the Vaccine Manufacturing Committee, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, said the DEK Consortium has developed a bankable business plan to provide enough resources to be able to put up the factory.
Speaking as the representative for the European Union, which is a bilateral partner, Ambassador M. Irchad Razaaly said the EU has stuck to its promise to support Ghana in its journey and transformation into a pan-African vaccine manufacturing hub.
The EU has given a five-million-euro grant to the DEK Consortium to commence the construction and manufacturing of vaccines in Ghana.
The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Harriet Thompson, commended the government and the company for the step they took, adding that the project would open the door for more partnerships.
The Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu was represented by Tina Mensah, Deputy Health Minister who said the President’s vision for a Ghana Beyond Aid was the driving force for the ministry.