The Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) are strengthening their partnership to improve equitable access to safe, effective and quality-assured vaccines, medicines and health technologies in sub-Saharan Africa, said the Commissioner for international partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced today in Geneva.
Commissioner Urpilainen noted: “The European Union and WHO share the common ambition to strengthen local production capacity and access to quality, safe, effective and, above all, affordable medicines and vaccines. As part of the Team Europe initiative for local manufacturing in Africa, we agreed today with Dr Tedros to step up support to our African partners by addressing some of the key barriers to access and availability, with concrete projects funded with at least €24.5 million from the EU budget. Together, we are strengthening the foundations of resilient health systems, universal health coverage and health security for today and into the future.
The EU-WHO partnership will help the African Union achieve its goal of increasing local production of vaccines, in Africa and for Africa. It will also support the achievement of African Union objectives in areas such as jobs and growth, trade and scientific cooperation.
The financial contribution of €24.5 million from the EU supports three main categories of actions: regulatory strengthening (€11.5 million), technology transfer (€12 million) and consolidation of demand and strategic purchases (1 million euros).
Technology transfer: WHO facilitates technology transfer for local production in sub-Saharan Africa, in close cooperation with national, continental and global stakeholders (COVAX Manufacturing Task Force). The EU will support the mRNA technology transfer center in South Africa, technology transfer in the region and workforce development. Total EU and Member State support for the platform amounts to €40 million.
Regulatory strengthening: The EU and WHO will support African partners, at national, regional and continental levels, to strengthen regulatory frameworks and functions. This is part of a broader package of support for strengthening regulations to create an enabling and innovative environment for the local manufacturing of vaccines, medicines and health technologies. This will strengthen the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) initiative and the African Medicines Agency.
Consolidation of demand: The EU and WHO will support African leaders and communities to defragment demand and better forecast needs, thereby strengthening markets for locally produced commodities.
The EU is also strengthening its collaboration with the OHCHR to advance human rights
During her mission to Geneva, Commissioner Urpilainen also announced support worth €14.4 million over three years (2022-2024) to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
These funds will support the management plan of the OHCHR office and are part of the EU’s contribution to rules-based multilateralism.
EU priorities for the protection and promotion of human rights are set out in the EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024 and translated into the new program for human rights and democracy in the framework of global Europe.
Human rights are at the heart of EU foreign policy, and the OHCHR is a key player and a privileged partner of the Union in strengthening rules-based multilateralism.