ETHIOPIA—The African Union Commission (AUC) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), towards the acceleration of vaccines across African Union member states.

The MoU’s principal objective is towards supporting immunization, provide technical and learning assistance, and health systems strengthening.

H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma, the AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs & Social Development (HHS), and Dr. Jean Kaseya, the Director General of Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), along with Dr. Seth Berkley, the Chief Executive Officer of Gavi, signed the MoU on behalf of the African Union Commission Chairperson.

The initiative, supported by the African Union, Africa CDC, G7, and other stakeholders also envisages the possibility of a fourth pillar, the design of a new financial instrument in the form of an Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for African vaccine manufacturing.

The partnership builds on the historic Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI), which aims to ensure that everyone in Africa receives the full benefits of immunization.

ADI includes 10 commitments to increase political, financial, and technical investments in immunization programs.

The evolving direction of this partnership is bound to accelerate the attainment of health security as premised in the AU Agenda 2063 and the New Public Health Order (NPHO).

In addition to providing a concrete framework for the AUC and GAVI to jointly address these challenges, it will be used to identify gaps and monitor progress to achieve universal access to immunization and drive positive impacts on the continent.

Through this MoU, AUC’s key areas of focus will be to principally scale up and strengthen routine immunization, focusing on reaching “zero dose” children i.e., children that have not received a single dose of a routine vaccine.

The MoU will seek to sustainably build regional vaccine manufacturing in Africa as well as undertake joint advocacy to boost vaccine demand for routine vaccines.

Furthermore, it will aim to strengthen primary health care systems and bolster diagnostic and surveillance capacity for diseases such as yellow fever, cholera, and typhoid.

Lastly, the MoU by AUC and GAVI will strive to jointly communicate routine immunization, pandemic prevention, preparedness, response, vaccine access, and delivery.

H.E. Amb. Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development said, “Children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Knowing they are prone to preventable life-threatening diseases; current leaders must do all it takes to protect and secure their future.‎‎”

Director General, of Africa CDC, Dr. Jean Kaseya underscored that the collaboration of the AUC and Gavi will further relate to Africa CDC-led initiatives for vaccine uptake in AU member states, as well as support investments in the goal to locally manufacture 60% of the vaccine doses required on the continent by 2040.  

CEO of Gavi, Dr. Seth Berkley noted that as an alliance of governments, partners, civil society, industry, and others, GAVI had a longstanding commitment to support access to life-saving vaccines.

Dr. Seth said, “This MoU is the strengthening of our shared determination to protect more children against vaccine-preventable diseases and to help realize the AU’s vision for sustainable vaccine manufacturing and the New Public Health Order on the continent,”.

Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM)

In April 2021, the African Union Commission (AUC) and Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) established the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) with the aim of developing, producing, and increasing the supply of vaccines in Africa in a sustainable manner.

To achieve the goals of PAVM, the focus is on attaining sustainable and reliable economies of scale by implementing mechanisms that create demand certainty for manufacturers and facilitate country procurement.

PAVM is actively building a collaborative ecosystem with partners who are committed to taking action, in line with the African Union’s vision of achieving 60% locally produced vaccines by 2040.

The lead partners, including Gavi, have reviewed the eight bold programs outlined in the PAVM framework for action and prioritized a set of practical actions.

They have also defined a collaboration framework that promotes effective implementation and delivers quick results to support African vaccine manufacturing.

To enhance project viability, the co-lead partners of the Access to Finance program, namely the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), have agreed to work with PAVM.

Their collaboration aims to assess the readiness of existing project preparation facilities on the continent and provide financing for early project preparation activities.

Africa CDC expresses concern about the adverse impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic and climate change on the health, security, and livelihoods of people in Africa.

These challenges have also hindered the progress made in vaccinating over 400 million children and preventing more than 9.9 million future deaths on the continent.

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