Scientists urge sub-Saharan states to invest in new vaccines
Tuesday May 09 2023
Sub-Saharan African nations should intensify surveillance and invest in new vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics to curb the growing threat of infectious diseases, scientists said at the just-concluded 2023 Ibrahim Governance Weekend held in Nairobi.
Tom Kariuki, executive director of the Science for Africa Foundation, a Nairobi-based lobby that advances science and innovations, emphasised the importance of enhanced preparedness in averting disruption of public health systems during disease outbreaks.
Kariuki said Africa is grappling with a growing burden of infectious diseases fuelled by climate change, disruptions of ecosystems and pollution.
He said the solution is in greater public education and upscaling local manufacturing of vaccines, antibiotics.
Kariuki added that governments should allocate sufficient funding toward research on novel vaccines and drugs to manage malaria, HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, and other emerging ailments like the Marburg virus and avian flu.
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Kariuki noted that anti-microbial resistance has undermined efforts to tame vector-borne diseases in Africa, stressing that academia-industry partnerships are required to address the crisis.
James Kimotho, head of the Kenya Medical Research Institute’s Innovation and Technology Transfer Division, called on African governments to establish policies to facilitate clinical trials for treatment and management of infectious diseases.
Kimotho emphasised the need for home-grown research and training for scientists to revitalise the war against communicable diseases.
Huwaida Bulhan, team lead at Roche pharmaceutical, said the Covid-19 pandemic served as a wake-up call for African countries to strengthen disease surveillance and create adequate stockpiles of critical health commodities like drugs and protective gear.