European Union, Rwanda partner on road to vaccine manufacturing

On 1 July 2021 at 07:49

The European Union (EU) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) have signed Rwf3.6 billion agreement to promote the Rwandan tourism and health sectors.

This agreement is expected to strengthen the capacity of the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (RFDA), which is key to enhancing the attractiveness of Rwanda for investments in the manufacturing of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals, thus helping to improve access to medicines.

Commenting on the development, the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen welcomed the agreement considered a major milestone towards local manufacturing of vaccines.

“This is an important step in supporting local manufacturing of health products in Africa. As announced by President Von Der Leyen , Team Europe will continue to support the country and Africa in strengthening the regulatory framework and attracting investment in the pharmaceutical sector,” she said.

Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije highlighted that upgrading Rwanda’s regulatory capabilities to the required international standards is a critical step on the journey to vaccine manufacturing.

“The European Union is a central partner in our efforts to bridge the gap in vaccine equity in Africa by building pharmaceutical production capacity,” he noted.

Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) stressed that access to vaccines is critical, especially for Africa where only around 1% of vaccines are manufactured on the continent.

“This agreement boosts Rwanda’s efforts to build a vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing ecosystem to contribute to health security of our region and our continent,” she stated.

The initiative agreed yesterday will help the RFDA to establish a strong quality control laboratory for medical products and supply new equipment for an integrated information management system.

This will help the RFDA in achieving the required level of certification by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be able to fully play its role to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of vaccines and pharmaceutical products.

The agreement is part of a comprehensive medium-term Team Europe support to bring the authority’s laboratory, technical and organizational capacity to high levels of performance.

As part of this effort, the EU Delegation will also seek to facilitate a peer-to-peer partnership between the RFDA and national regulatory authorities from EU Member States.

Among others, the EU and the European Investment Bank are in discussions to partner with the Government of Rwanda to facilitate and promote investment by pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the country, including exploring opportunities for co-financing and de-risking potential investments.

In May 2021, the EU announced at the G20 Global Health Summit in Rome a Team Europe initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines, and health technologies in Africa. The initiative will help to create an enabling environment for local vaccine manufacturing in Africa and tackle barriers on both the supply and demand sides, backed by €1 billion from the EU budget and the European development finance institutions, such as the European Investment Bank (EIB). This amount will be further enhanced by contributions from EU Member States.

Signed agreement is expected to strengthen the capacity of Rwanda Food and Drug Authority, which is key to enhancing the attractiveness of Rwanda for investments in the manufacturing of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.