UNICEF and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, have signed an extended partnership meant to strengthen primary healthcare, supply chain management, pooled procurement and local manufacturing, and emergency response in Africa.

UNICEF & Africa CDC Extend Partnership on Vaccine Manufacturing, Immunisation

UNICEF and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, have signed an extended partnership meant to strengthen primary healthcare, supply chain management, pooled procurement and local manufacturing, and emergency response in Africa.

The collaboration is meant to build on the 2022-2024 Partnership Framework Agreement between the Africa CDC and The United Nations Children’s Fund, which aims to achieve the goals outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

The partnership which was extended to 2027 is expected to have a significant impact on public health in Africa by strengthening procurement and supply chain systems, with a particular focus on immunisation for children across the continent.

In addition, research reports show that Immunisation is one of the most effective public health interventions globally, but millions of African children are still deprived of life-saving vaccinations.

According to the 2023 UNICEF State of the World’s Children Vaccination Report revealed that 12.7 million children were under-vaccinated in 2021, including 8.7 million who did not receive a single dose (zero-dose children).

The expanded partnership between the Africa CDC and UNICEF signifies a concerted effort to address this gap and other Africa’s pressing health challenges.

By prioritising immunisation, strengthening health systems, and promoting local production, both organisations are poised to make sustainable impacts on the health and well-being of children and communities across the continent while safeguarding Africa’s health security.

A joint press statement from the Africa CDC and UNICEF on Thursday noted that the Director General of Africa CDC, Dr Jean Kaseya and the UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, Ted Chaiban, signed the expanded partnership agreement in Addis Ababa.

It was noted that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of many healthcare systems and highlighted deficiencies and challenges in medical supply chains.

It also pointed out that while countries with strong primary healthcare systems were better able to cope, the disruption caused by the pandemic left others facing shortages of vital medical commodities.

The statement partly read, “Over the next four years, Africa CDC and UNICEF will work together to establish robust institutional backing for supply chain management and enhance pooled procurement mechanisms to fortify Africa’s healthcare infrastructure, ensuring timely and adequate access to essential medical supplies for its population.”

Meanwhile, DR Kaseya said, ‘‘The partnership will optimise supply chain management, operationalise the pool procurement mechanism for Africa CDC, empower community health workers, and advance local manufacturing. Ultimately, these efforts will strengthen immunisation systems and reduce outbreaks and epidemics on the continent.”

“This partnership is a commitment to the well-being of children and their families, affirming their right to health. By strengthening our partnership with Africa CDC and the Joint Emergency Action Plan for Africa, we can ensure communities get the support they need without delay.

“The push forward on paid and protected community health workers, medical supplies made in Africa, for Africans, remains one of our highest priorities,” Chaiban added.

The statement also highlighted that UNICEF and Africa CDC have achieved significant milestones in strengthening Africa CDC’s institutional capacity and catalysing community health programmes, immunisation systems, emergency response, and supply chain enhancement in the past two years.

It stated, “Collaborative efforts secured the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses and essential cold chain equipment for routine immunisation. Joint high-level advocacy initiatives focused on immunisation, community health, and response to public health emergencies.

“Africa imports 99 per cent of its vaccines and 70 to 90 per cent of its medicines and medical devices, which is a significant challenge. Africa CDC aims to achieve sustainable production and supply of essential health commodities through African manufacturers, considered Africa’s second independence by Africa CDC.

“Africa CDC’s goal is to work with African Union Member States and partners to actively advocate for and support the procurement of vaccines made in Africa and prioritise initiatives that strengthen local manufacturing.

Furthermore, “Through the Partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing, Africa CDC aims to manufacture 60 per cent of the continent’s vaccine needs by 2040, paving the way toward robust and self-reliant health systems, ensuring that people can obtain and use health commodities when and where required.”