Making the Africa CDC’s vision for the continent’s pharma future come true


As the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) sets its sights on an ambitious target of fulfilling 60% of the continent’s vaccine needs through local production by 2040, a major obstacle lies in the startling lack of pharmaceutical manufacturing infrastructure across the region. Despite being home to over 1.3 billion people, Africa currently accounts for just 0.1% of global vaccine production and remains heavily reliant on imported medicines.

The consequences of this dependency are dire – each year, millions of Africans suffer and die from treatable infectious diseases simply due to lack of access to existing drugs and preventive measures. Cholera alone caused over 3.8 million cases and 5,900 deaths in 2021, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This bacterial infection spreads through contaminated water sources, making it an unavoidable threat in regions plagued by poor sanitation infrastructure. Yet, despite an affordable oral cholera vaccine existing for decades, supply shortages perpetually leave vast populations unprotected.

Similarly, a 2022 meningitis outbreak across the African “meningitis belt” resulted in over 39,000 cases and 934 deaths. Bacterial meningitis infections can be effectively treated with antibiotic regimens – if those medicines are readily available. Outbreaks quickly spiral out of control when supply chains falter. It’s estimated that one in five African children lack access to basic vaccines for preventable diseases like measles, polio and diphtheria.

The COVID-19 pandemic cast a harsh spotlight on this dependency, leaving many African nations struggling to access life-saving vaccines and treatments. Widespread disruptions to global supply chains meant that even countries with purchase agreements found themselves at the back of the queue as wealthier nations secured limited stocks. This vulnerability underscores the urgent imperative for Africa to build up its own robust pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities.

Recognizing this deficit, the Africa CDC launched the Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) initiative to facilitate technology transfers, training, and financing to establish sustainable vaccine production on the continent. However, one of the biggest challenges remains the substantial capital investment and extended timelines required to construct traditional “stick-built” pharmaceutical plants compliant with current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).

This is where PodTech™’s cutting-edge modular manufacturing solution presents an innovative path forward. PodTech™’s prefabricated, pre-validated podules™ are self-contained biopharmaceutical facilities encapsulating dedicated utilities, environmental controls, and process systems within a fully enclosed architecture. These rapidly deployable units offer a flexible, scalable solution to pharmaceutical companies and governments looking to fast-track local production of vaccines, therapeutics, and other life-saving medical supplies.

Unlike conventional facilities that can take years to design and construct, PodTech™’s podules™ can be operational within two years. Their modular nature enables bio-manufacturers to easily scale capacity up or down by adding or removing podules™ as needed, providing an agile and cost-effective approach to meeting evolving production demands. Oh and, did we mention our podules™ are all pre-validated so no regulatory hurdles hold back your production set-up? PodTech™ also eliminates the risks and complexities associated with stick-built construction by leveraging standardised designs, components, and integrated process utilities that are pre-qualified and validated offsite during podule™ fabrication. This strategy ensures robust quality systems and stringent compliance with global regulatory standards like cGMP.

As Africa strives to attain vaccine self-reliance and fortify its defenses against current and future health crises, the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies like PodTech™’s modular podules™ could prove transformative. By providing a rapid yet compliant route to secure regional supply chains for essential medicines, PodTech™ empowers African nations and the private sector to take control of their pharmaceutical destiny. Complementing our podules™, we also offer state-of-the-art Tech Transfer services for product development, process optimization, analytical services, and workforce training.

Delays in treatment, stock-outs, and unfilled prescriptions will become a crisis of the past as locally-based biopharmaceutical facilities come online across the continent. Affordable, domestically-produced cholera vaccines could save millions from the scourge of this preventable disease. Ample supplies of antibiotics and supportive therapies could quickly contain bacterial meningitis flare-ups. And robust regional manufacturing of all childhood immunisations could finally eliminate frequent outbreaks of measles, polio, and other vaccine-preventable afflictions.

As Africa embarks on this vital mission to bolster its health security, PodTech™’s end-to-end solutions stand ready to accelerate the continent’s journey toward a future of pharmaceutical autonomy and resilience. If you are a drug maker looking to make a difference in Africa, take that most-important first step by reaching out to us. Together, we can build a continent that no longer needs to rely on donations for life-saving drugs and treatments. All it takes is a pod at a time.


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