The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana says it has still not received clearance to produce COVID-19 vaccines locally, more than a year after it began talks with the government.
Local manufactures took up the challenge when COVID-19 hit Ghana, and produced hand sanitisers, nose masks, and other Personal Protective Equipment at the peak of the pandemic, to forestall the need for the government to import these items.
The association subsequently appealed to the government to grant it permission to produce COVID-19 vaccines locally.
But a year on, this has not materialized and the government is currently facing challenges securing vaccines to undertake the next stage of vaccination.
The Executive Secretary of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Lucia Addae Ntiri, said up to 15 companies are willing to start producing vaccines.
“It is important that we start to manufacture vaccines. COVID-19 has taught us that we cannot rely on other economies and other countries.”
“We’ve also engaged the Ministry [of Health] about our willingness to manufacture vaccines for the country… the dialogue started even before COVID hit Ghana.”
Mrs. Ntiri explained that the extensive dialogue was important because of the role the state would have to play.
For example, the pharmaceutical companies will have to make sure the government ensures demand for the manufactured vaccines.
“Of course the government will also help us secure the intellectual property and patent to be able to manufacture [the vaccines]. We’ll have some dialogue as to whatever support will be needed,” she added.
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has already indicated that Ghana could start importing unpackaged COVID-19 vaccines in bulk for local companies to fill into vials.
It said this is likely to happen within six months.
She said some indigenous companies are in the process of getting the needed documentation and clearance to engage in the process.
President Akufo-Addo has already indicated Ghana’s willingness to begin manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.
The government has established a committee to formulate a concrete plan for vaccine development and manufacturing in Ghana.