African Nations Join Forces To Negotiate For Cheaper Vaccines

African Nations Join Forces To Negotiate For Cheaper Vaccines

African nations have a signed a declaration to partner in negotiations with multinational drug manufacturers for cheaper vaccines to ensure that immunization is accessible to all children on the continent.

The deal was part of a declaration made last week by 41 countries meeting at Africa’s first immunizations conference, convened by the World Health Organization at the African Union headquarter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

According to a Times Live report, the deal aims to bring down prices of vaccines by approaching drug companies as a bloc and making the negotiation process open rather the usual individualized confidential deals that leave most nation disadvantaged.

Most pharmaceutical companies keep secret the prices each country pays.

“This is the start of a new era of health on our continent, in which all countries commit to saving and improving children’s lives using one of the most powerful tools ever invented: vaccines. Africa’s unity on immunization is our best hope for a better future,” said Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, African Union Commission chairwoman, according to a Ghana Business News report.

Helen Rees, head of South Africa’s Medicines Control Council,  said countries needed to know what others paid if they were to be able to negotiate effectively.

South Africa spends more on vaccines than any other African country. Paying for the new vaccine inflated the country’s vaccine expenditure from an estimated $6 million to $53 million a year.

According to WHO, one in five children living in Africa still do not recieve life-saving immunizations despite considerable progress in expanding access to vaccines on the continent.

The economic benefits of immunization have proven to greatly outweigh the costs, with recent research showing the benefits of preventing illness and lost productivity to be 16 times greater than the required investment in vaccines.