Pres. Ali to expand Guyana’s pharmaceutical industry into vaccine manufacturing
President Dr Irfaan Ali on Thursday participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for a BioNTech facility – the first vaccine production facility – to be constructed in Rwanda (Kigali) where he has joined other global leaders for the first Commonwealth Summit since 2018.
The facility is the start of a project in cooperation with Ghana, South Africa and Senegal that will allow Africa to become self-sufficient in vaccine production.
There, the Guyanese Head of State stated his own intention to upgrade the country’s legislative and regulatory framework while investing in the necessary training and development research towards establishing a similar facility at home.
In an invited comment to the News Room, Dr. Ali said that part of the government’s development trajectory in diversifying the local economy is to invest in health care and education.
He said the pandemic served as a valuable reminder of the inequality in the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines even as he welcomed the establishment of the facility in Rwanda and the ongoing efforts in Ghana.
“For Guyana, this is the direction we are headed in,” Dr. Ali said while noting that work would have to be done to put the necessary framework in place to encourage investors in the medical field.
“We want people to come to Guyana and develop vaccine and treatment for diseases like malaria… it is important as a country that we respond to the needs and makes ourselves vaccine secure,” Dr. Ali added.
He promised swift action towards establishing the supporting regulatory and legislative framework.
He told the News Room that Guyana will work with countries like Rwanda that was able to put the necessary framework in place in just four months for the establishment of the vaccine-producing plant.
“I am on a forward-looking and proactive mission to work with countries like Rwanda… work with them to build the regulatory framework and institutional and training facilities for highly skilled and capable human resources to transition into these new fields and areas.
“It is in that context that I was invited to the function this morning and I am going to start discussions at the bilateral level,” Dr. Ali said while noting that Guyana has already started talks with Barbados on this front.
He said BioNTech is an example of a company that countries in the Caribbean region can work with to realise the shared goals of Guyana in expanding the region’s pharmaceutical industry.
“Prime Minister [Mia] Mottley and I have had discussions already on regulations and the Attorney Generals of both countries are to look at the existing legal framework and what is needed.
“We can take the model out of Rwanda and Ghana… we will definitely have bilateral [discussions] with Ghana and Rwanda and these areas will be on the agenda,” Dr. Ali told the News Room in Rwanda.
He hinted at setting up a special institute to train locals to take up the jobs to be created.
Dr. Ali said such a facility will be a gamechanger in the region’s ability to address diseases like malaria, typhoid and HIV/AIDS.