AFRICA – The African Union (AU), formerly Organization of African Unity, is set to receive US$2.5 million in financing from the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) to bolster the healthcare workforce in Africa.

The financing will support the African Union in building care capacity in the region at a time when health workforce development is a critical pillar of the AU’s New Public Health Order towards universal health coverage, pandemic preparedness and health security.

The Serum Institute of India has made known plans to establish a vaccine manufacturing plant in Africa in its global expansion strategy, the vaccine giant is expected to invest over US$300 million for setting up the vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa after its success in selling COVID-19 shots.

The Indian biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals company is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by the number of doses produced and sold globally including Polio vaccine, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella as well as Pneumococcal and COVID-19 vaccines.

The COVID-19 pandemic remains a severe health emergency that has caused great suffering and hardship across the African continent and globally.

Vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute are accredited by the World Health Organization, Geneva and are being used in around 170 countries across the globe in their national immunization programs, saving millions of lives throughout the world.

SII manufactures highly specialized lifesaving biologicals like vaccines using cutting edge genetic and cell-based technologies, antisera and other medical specialties. It is estimated that about 65% of the children in the world receive at least one vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute.

Recently, the Serum Institute of India announced that the giant vaccine maker will provide an initial US$2.5 million to support the African Union’s Covid-19 Commission in financing health workforce development as well as support the deployment of healthcare workers across the continent.

In 2021, Outgoing African Union Chairperson and President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa established the COVID-19 Commission to strengthen the continental institutions established as part of the AU’s continental response to the ongoing pandemic.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as AU COVID-19 Champion, lauded the Serum Institute of India for availing the financing towards health workforce development in Africa, noting that is it the health workforce that delivers lifesaving medical tools to the people.

The Outgoing African Union Chairperson acknowledged that the financial contribution will kickstart the continental health workforce initiative while encouraging businesses, donors and other investors to follow Serum’s example.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said partners that will execute the mandate include the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Seed Global Health, adding that the funds provided by the SII will increase investment in the African and global health workforce.

CEO of the Serum Institute of India Adar Poonawalla stated that the company has a long history of providing health-care support in Africa, noting that the AU Health Workforce Task Team will mark the first step in the building of the African health-care workforce of the future.

We call on governments, charities and companies alike to step forward and contribute to this historic process and empower the experts at the African Union and Seed Global Health to make lasting systemic change,” Adar Poonawalla further said.

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