Ghana To Begin Vaccine Production

Dr Fritz Sacher of Merck and Andrew Clocanas of RMS after signing the MoU with Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia and Brigitte Zypries and Deputy Health Minister, Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu

After two years of fruitful discussions between Merck KGaA and Ridge Management Solutions (also trading as RMS Innovativ), a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the first human vaccine manufacturing plant in Ghana has been signed.

The signing of the MoU between the two organisations will make Ghana the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to have a dedicated vaccine plant encompassed with a diverse range of products in the medium to long-term.

Key aspects of the MoU include basic design, facility construction, equipment supply installation, technology transfer, validation support, training and qualification of staff.

The new plant comes at the time Ghana’s vaccine supply is highly-dependent on external sources with more than 99 percent of imported vaccine being finished products.

Ghana is currently faced with an outbreak of influenza H1N1 viral infection (swine flu), which was first recorded at Kumasi Academy (KUMACA).

Health Minister Kweku Agyeman-Manu had confirmed to journalist that “based on the laboratory findings of the respiratory samples from Noguchi, we wish to indicate an outbreak of an acute respiratory infection with sever presentation and some resulting in deaths.”

Subsequently, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) country office requested for 10,000 H1N1 vaccines to be imported to prevent the further spread of the disease, but the country is yet to take stock of the consignment.

The ministry, in a statement, explained that although efforts are being made to facilitate the process, the supplier has indicated that there will be a slight delay in delivery.

“It is expected that the vaccine will arrive in Accra by the middle of next week. The Ministry of Health and WHO are closely following up to ensure this is expedited. The vaccines will be immediately deployed for immediate use on arrival. We will keep you updated on any new development,” the statement said.

The vaccine plant initiative will, therefore, serve as a catalyst for local production along with related technologies which is almost non-existent in the sector.

Brigitte Zypries, Germany’s Minister for Economic Affairs & Energy, and a delegation who accompanied the German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a three-day state visit to Ghana witnessed the signing of the MoU along with Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

Dr Bawumia commended the initiative, stressing on its relevance not only for Ghana, but Africa as a whole.

The vice president further pledged government’s support for the project, adding that it is the aim of government that the project is built to address some of the problems of local vaccine supply, with additional relevance in line with AU policies such as the Pharma Manufacturing Plan for Africa, the Continental Free Trade Area and Ghana’s own Rapid Industrial Transformation Agenda.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri