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Make Africa’s vaccines in Africa, summit told

Campaigners are calling for vaccines destined for Africa to be made there to save money and boost Africa’s economic development.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) held a major meeting in London on Friday to ask for £2.3 billion in funding to immunise 243 million children against a variety of diseases over the next four years.

The money, it says, could save 
another four million lives on top of the five million children that have been saved by vaccinations in the last 10 years.

But the jabs GAVI buys to use in Africa and the world’s other poorest countries are mostly made in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia, says the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED).

"Sustainable development in Africa would be greatly enhanced if local vaccine production and regulation are included in the global targets," the Switzerland-based council told the GAVI meeting.

"The transfer of research and development, production, procurement and regulatory capacities will take time but holds the promise of real development well beyond the particular conditions being tackled," CHORED’s Carel IJsselmuiden told SciDev.Net.

"There is no reason why targets for the international community related to vaccination of children should not include that at least three of the vaccines in which GAVI has interest be produced in Africa in the next five years."

Only one African vaccine maker has approval from the World Health Authority – Senegal’s Pasteur Institute Dakar, which makes yellow fever jabs for GAVI.

But both Tunisia and South Africa are gearing up their own labs to make vaccines. And other African countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, also have the makings to become quality vaccine makers, with some guidance, COHRED said.

Many poorer countries are now simplifying the vaccine making processes to make cheaper vaccines. But they need funding to develop their vaccines and access to know-how.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, ahead of the talks, Britain’s International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell said Britain take the lead at the conference and the Prime Minister is expected to promise to give Gavi more funding than it does currently.

Mr Cameron has said that it was right to protect Britain’s aid budget. 'We had a look when we came into Government at all the different ways that Britain does development with British taxpayer funds,’ he said. ‘And one of the very best was the Global Alliance of Vaccines and Immunisation, where effectively you can vaccinate a kid in the poor world for the price of a cup of coffee against all five of the killer diseases which mean so many of these children die before the age of five.'

Hayley attribution