Medical Laboratory and Research Scientists have stressed the need for Africa to work hard to achieve the Africa Union (AU) target to produce at least 60 percent of vaccines used in Africa by 2040.
This was contained in a statement issued at the end of CelebrateLAB West Africa Conference, the annual professional meeting of medical laboratory and research scientists, held in Accra, Ghana, on the theme: “Ensuring Diagnostic Capability and Vaccine Sufficiency as Panacea to Combating Infectious Diseases in West Africa.”
This year’s Conference placed special emphasis on how to improve research and diagnostics environment in the area of laboratory capacity, human resources as well as enhancing vaccine production capabilities in West Africa.
The conference encouraged Medical Laboratory Scientists to sharpen their negotiation and lobbying skills to engage political leaders to speed up laboratory policy implementation.
Observations made by the delegates revealed that COVID-19 has exposed the gaps in West Africa’s Health Sector and uncovered the sub-regions’ diagnostic challenges.
The initial difficulties with obtaining testing kits and other diagnostics supplies affected the region’s response to the pandemic.
Adding that challenges in securing vaccines at the beginning of the vaccine deployment across the world, highlighted the need for West Africa to work relentlessly towards achieving self-sufficiency in vaccines, diagnostic kits and materials, and other medical supplies.
The delegates commended Ghana, Senegal, and Rwanda for their partnerships with BioTech for vaccine production in Africa to address the issues of vaccine insufficiency.
The group called for wider collaboration, urging West Africa governments to truly build diagnostic and research expertise to meet vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
“Africa, as a matter of duty and patriotism must support its scientists and innovators in Biotech and Biopharm, and consciously focus on improving acceptance and cost of diagnostic devices and kits produced on the continent,” they said.
Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Johnson, former President of Liberia in an address noted that Africa, through determination and resilience had gotten better in responding to disease outbreaks.
She applauded the enormous role that medical laboratory professionals across the continent played in the diagnosis and surveillance of COVID-19 and thanked them for their leadership in the fight and control of the pandemic and urged all managers of healthcare systems and health ministries across the West Africa sub-region, to recognize and respect the important contribution of medical laboratory and research professionals.
The Conference was attended by representatives from Africa, the United States of America, Germany, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.