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Kenya joins international vaccines initiative to boost healthcare

Health & Science
President William Ruto in Seoul, South Korea. [PCS]

Kenya has formally joined the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) as a member state. 

Kenya's accession to the IVI strengthens the nation's resolve to achieve self-reliance in vaccine production, President William Ruto said at the ceremony held to mark the country's ratification of the IVI treaty at the agency's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday.

During the ceremony, President Ruto raised the Kenyan flag and then the National Anthem was played. 

He pointed out that increased vaccine availability will enhance the delivery of Kenya's primary healthcare and adequately support disease prevention. 

President Ruto said Kenya had learnt critical lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic challenges of accessing vaccines, and committed to reduce reliance on external manufacturers of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. 

“The time has come for Africa to actualise health sovereignty by liberating itself from dependency on unsustainable frameworks, and accelerating initiatives to become self-sufficient in vaccine production,” he said.

The President said making vaccines universally accessible, regardless of nationality and status, is an urgent imperative that must be addressed.

“In vaccine production and supply terms, no one is safe until everyone is safe.” 

President Ruto thanked IVI for announcing that it would establish a country and project office in Nairobi, saying it will bolster Universal Health Coverage agenda and promote African self-reliance in vaccine production.

“Under this partnership, we will strive to strengthen our health systems by ensuring commodity security through research, development and manufacturing,” he said.

President Ruto said a tripartite agreement between the IVI, Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology will further boost the continent's plan for cutting edge research and training, and consequently a resilient healthcare system. 

He commended the African Union for taking steps to bolster the continent’s healthcare infrastructure, human capital and institutional frameworks. 

“The collective determination of Africa’s leaders in shaping the future of healthcare by establishing a resilient, equitable and sustainable vaccine manufacturing ecosystem is beyond doubt,” he said.

The President said that Kenya is keen on partnering with the African Union Commission, Africa Centre for Disease Control, the African Medicines Agency, the World Health Organisation and the IVI to strengthen the continent’s vaccine production.  

He urged IVI to continue pushing the "boundaries of innovation" to enhance the continent’s support for research and development in biotechnology and building resilient health systems.

IVI Director-General Jerome Kim affirmed his agency's commitment to building a strong and sustainable vaccine ecosystem that advances science, prevents disease and saves lives.

“As we think about vaccine security, it must be intentional, empowering and inclusive,” he said.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha said preventing diseases through primary healthcare is a critical pillar of Universal Health Coverage.

“It has been shown that the surest way to prevent diseases is through immunisation, and we can only achieve that if we invest in vaccines,” she said.

The CS noted that the accession of Kenya to IVI aligns with the Government’s healthcare plan. 

Others who spoke were officials from South Korea's Department of International Affairs and Africa Centre for Disease Control.

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