KENYA—The World Bank has pledged Ksh19.1 billion (US$120 million) to support Kenya’s vaccine manufacturing plant, which is set to open in 2029.

Health Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimutai revealed this information about the financing while accompanying World Bank Vice President for Human Development Mamta Murthi on a visit of the facility in Embakasi in Nairobi.

The Kenya BioVax Institute is constructing the facility, and the first batch of locally packed (filling and packaging imported vaccinations) important commodities for health are planned to be released within the next five years.

The facility will include two filling lines, according to the agency, with the capacity to handle Kenya’s annual vaccination demand of 16 million vaccines, which is predicted to rise to 25 million due to the country’s expanding population.

Mr Kimutai added that the World Bank is giving them the $120 million for this facility, which is one of the main sponsors of this path to vaccine production.

The PS did not specify the sort of finance, but the billions further solidify the World Bank’s role as a key backer of Kenya’s development plan, with projects spanning health, roads, and energy.

Ms Murthi expressed her delight that Kenya is making progress toward its vaccine production goal and is employing the appropriate phased approach.

She went on to explain that she was delighted to partner and help Kenya in the growth of vaccines and markets, both locally and regionally, noting that this facility will allow Kenya to stay up with South Africa, while Senegal is manufacturing vaccines for both local and regional markets.

The World Bank provides loans and grants to development initiatives, as well as advising and technical assistance to help organizations expand their capacity.

The World Bank’s funding is vital to establishing the facility and assisting Kenya in avoiding a potential crisis caused by the departure of the country’s principal vaccine donor and vaccination financier, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi).

Gavi has extended the assistance by two years, to 2029, from the original deadline of 2027, to allow Kenya Biovax Institute to grow its ability to begin locally formulating and increasing volumes of imported vaccines ready for use.

Kenya spends an estimated Ksh36 billion (US$225 million) on immunization each year, with Gavi and Unicef covering 88 percent, or Ksh27 billion (US$168.8 million), and the Exchequer covering the remainder.

Health experts have advised that Kenya has to fast-track the facility to guarantee that Kenya is not thrust into a vaccination supply crisis by the time Gavi departs.

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