Strengthening Africa’s health security and vaccine production through CARE



Since the unexpected emergence of COVID-19 which shook Africa’s health systems to its roots, governments, individuals, non-profit organizations as well corporate entities have continued to form partnerships to strengthen the continent’s health systems.

These partnerships, regardless of size, are gradually bringing back the hope of stable African health systems which have over the years been tested with the rapid spread of diseases such as malaria, and HIV/AIDS to the more recent “Ebola” virus and the COVID-19 pandemic. One such health-proactive partnership is the recent launch of Centre for Africa’s Resilience to Epidemics (CARE) as a critical component of the MADIBA (Manufacturing in Africa for Disease Immunization and Building Autonomy) partnership between Institut Pasteur de Dakar and Mastercard Foundation.

CARE which is housed on the campus of the Institut Pasteur de Dakar (IPD), Senegal, is the first hub on the continent exclusively devoted to advancing the discipline of Epidemic Preparedness and Response (EPR). It is aligned with MADIBA’s aim to develop and build a world-class workforce to support vaccine manufacturing and establish a Centre of Training Excellence to equip talented young people, particularly young women, with specialized skills in vaccine research, manufacturing, production, and distribution.

The Center is structured to succeed as the place where cutting-edge knowledge is taught to the sharpest minds, resulting in disruptive innovation in the field of epidemic preparedness and response. It boasts three departments namely; DAHRA (Dakar Health & Research Academy) which will provide educational and knowledge transfer services in the field of infectious disease and epidemics; DIAGORA which will focus on data and disease intelligence, conducting fundamental and applied research on the detection, and prediction modeling of infectious diseases and epidemics; and FICS Lab which will serve as an innovation hub and a place to accelerate the translation of scientific discovery into start-ups and social ventures. The facility, designed to foster interactive learning, boasts a state-of-the-art amphitheater with a seating capacity of 100 students and six modern classrooms, and a fully equipped laboratory space dedicated to experimental sciences allowing for a hands-on approach to education. It is also furnished with the latest technology in computer-assisted design, rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, and nanotechnologies to enable practical demonstrations and real-time innovation in design and production.

The center envisions Africa as a prepared and resilient continent, transforming diseases into opportunities for social, economic, and cultural benefits.  This sets the tone for it as the game-changer on the African continent to stem the brain drain in the health sector by training the workforce for the future that will make Africans believe in the expertise on the continent, thereby discouraging them from going abroad to enjoy state-of-the-art facilities and quality healthcare.

With a focus on the future, Africa should expect the emergence of next-generation leaders, decision-makers, and actors who will be involved on epidemic fronts as 1,000 students will be trained in various disciplines at the center. A position echoed during the inauguration of the Center by Dr. Amadou Sall, the CEO of Institut Pasteur de Dakar who stated that “CARE will work on epidemics by ensuring that there is a certain resilience over time so that we can prevent epidemics, predict them and provide a response. To do this, we are going to train students in biology, whether it is all disciplines related to epidemics, how to communicate, detect, and treat the patient”.

Another aspect is the promotion of disease intelligence through the collection, storage, and analysis of massive epidemiological data that will translate epidemic research into social and commercial value by fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Emphasizing this point, the Senegalese Minister of Health, Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, said “Diplomacy is becoming an essential tool to promote global health and preserve the well-being of our citizens. It can be a catalyst for mobilizing resources and promoting policies that promote overall health”.

Expressing the commitment of the Mastercard Foundation to the health of Africa, Serge-Auguste Kouakou, Country Director WAEMU, Mastercard Foundation analysing the role of CARE in the development of a vaccine workforce on the continent stated, “This advanced physical facility houses the MADIBA Workforce Development Initiative, the Foundation’s $45 million partnership with IPD designed to attract, train, and inspire the skilled and specialized workforce needed to jump-start vaccine manufacturing in Africa and get from zero to sixty”.

MADIBA remains a significant step towards achieving vaccine manufacturing autonomy in Africa and its success is hinged on nurturing a skilled and self-reliant African workforce which CARE is a pivotal part. The Center will serve as an intersection of scientific research, education, and entrepreneurship, amounting to a dynamic culture of innovation fostered through active learning, agile project management, and lean startup methodologies.

The health of Africa is indeed looking good with this initiative because not only will it develop a skilled workforce but also a robust health system that will benefit African economies through the development of a manufacturing sector and pharmaceutical industry.

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