France to host summit on vaccine equity and African production

A major step towards vaccine sovereignty for Africa is underway. France announced a new initiative at a summit this week that will see over $1 billion pledged to ramp up vaccine production on the continent.

The summit, which will be held in Paris on Thursday, will see participation from several African leaders, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Gavi vaccine alliance.

A “new mechanism” will be launched to accelerate funding for African vaccine production facilities.

The initiative aims to empower African nations to produce their own vaccines, reducing reliance on external sources and strengthening healthcare security.

This newfound independence will be crucial in tackling the continent’s many health challenges.

Part of the pledged funds will also be directed towards establishing an African medicines agency, mirroring the European model.

The announcement comes amidst ongoing concerns about vaccine equity.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the stark disparities in vaccine access, with wealthy nations hoarding doses while Africa faced shortages. This imbalance was further highlighted by instances like Switzerland destroying unused vaccines.

Several African regions are currently battling cholera outbreaks alongside vaccine scarcity. The summit aims to address these shortages with “specific announcements” expected on Thursday.

Malaria will be another key discussion point at the summit.

Gavi, a leader in the Covax program that distributed COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries, seeks additional funding from donors to support its vaccination initiatives through 2030.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host the summit, welcoming leaders from Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, and Botswana. Discussions will extend beyond vaccine production, focusing on ongoing crises in Sudan and the African Great Lakes region.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also expected to contribute to the summit virtually.

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