BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,20TH JAN,2022-The Ministry of Health has announced plans to set up a vaccine manufacturing facility in Nairobi to support production of various vaccines including COVID-19 jabs.
The Biovax plant at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) facility in Embakasi will be installed at the cost of Sh2.5 billion.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe made the announcement on Thursday when he hosted the Kenya Editors Guild for a meeting in Malindi on Thursday.
“It will be situated at the KEMSA grounds in Embakasi. We have taken about three go-downs where that equipment will be put. We are in the process of renovating those go-downs, changing the place and securing the area,” Kagwe said.
“So, we are not going to put up new buildings for now so that the money that we have (Sh2.5 billion) will be used for installation alone.”
CS Kagwe assured Kenyans of prudent utilization of public resources saying the health ministry will work with the best experts to ensure manufacturing and storage of vaccines is up to the highest standards.
“Whoever we are going to work with must be of a global stan ding position. We don’t wont compromises and people calling to see if some people can participate. Unless you have been in that business do not bother. We are going to work with the best on earth. That I can guarantee Kenyans,” said Kagwe.
Currently, Kenya imports over 70 percent of the country’s medical products, including vaccines and biologicals.
This sometimes means that the ministry is unable to access these essential supplies due to logistical challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic that struck in March 2020, only exacerbated the challenges associated with lack of local capacity.
During his eighth State of the Nation Address in Parliament on November 30, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya had set out to implement self-reliance which was one of the key learning points during the pandemic.
The Head of State pointed out that the country had already established the Kenya Biovax Institute Limited as a venture that would locally produce anti COVID-19 vaccines as a first step towards actualizing the objective.
“I therefore directed the Ministry of Health to operationalize the company to ‘form and fill’ and eventual manufacture of our locally produced vaccine by Easter of 2022,” Kenyatta said.
Under the National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan, Kenya aims to have fully-fledged vaccine manufacturing capability by 2024.