At Senegal’s home of vaccines, African Development Bank President reiterates commitment to Africa’s pharmaceutical industry

Bank President visits pioneering Covid-19 vaccine production center, discusses $3 billion investment in the pharmaceutical industry

African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina has reiterated the Bank’s commitment to ensuring that the continent’s 1.4 billion people gain greater access to quality healthcare.

Adesina spoke during a visit to Senegal’s Institut Pasteur de Dakar, a biomedical research center that has been at the forefront of Africa’s fight against Covid-19. Calling for an end to vaccine inequality, Adesina observed that “people are talking about the third, fourth, and even fifth dose while in Africa we are still looking for the first dose.”

Around 11% of Africans have been fully vaccinated, compared to 50% to 70% of populations of some of the world’s wealthier nations.

“These are all reasons why the African Development Bank supports the African pharmaceutical sector. We must have the capacity to produce medicines here in Africa to ensure the health of our populations. We cannot depend on a health system that is concentrated outside the continent and leave the health of 1.4 billion people to the generosity of others,” Adesina said.

The Bank chief said to boost the pharmaceutical industry, requires technical capacity, raw material, and infrastructure. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted these deficits.

Africa imports almost all its vaccines. When Covid-19 emerged in 2020, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar was one of only two places on the continent that processed testing for the virus. This year, Senegal is expected to become one of the few African countries to produce Covid-19 vaccines. Similar plans have been reported in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda, and South Africa.

The Bank has committed to investing $3 billion in Africa’s pharmaceutical industry over 10 years. The Institut Pasteur de Dakar has invested heavily in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar was already producing and distributing vaccines to tackle other diseases on the continent.

During his visit to the center’s laboratories, President Adesina commended the researchers for doing “an excellent job.”

Adesina said: “We will support the Institut Pasteur de Dakar financially for the production of rapid tests, pharmaceutical products, and vaccines against Covid-19. I am impressed by the level of the expertise of the researchers.”

In May 2020, the African Development Bank approved a loan of 88 million euros to Senegal to support its efforts to fight the impact of Covid-19. The funding provided about 1.1 million households with food aid, supplied around 800 hospital beds and equipped several epidemic treatment centers.

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