President Paul Kagame is among African leaders who have welcomed the ‘Accord for a Healthier World’ initiative announced by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on Wednesday, which is expected to improve health equity for 1.2 billion People Living in 45 Lower-Income Countries.
Under the initiative, Pfizer will provide all its current and future patent-protected medicines and vaccines available in the U.S. or EU on a not-for-profit basis to 45 lower-income countries, including Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda.
The Pfizer initiative launched in Davos, Switzerland, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is expected to reduce the health inequities that exist between many lower-income countries and the rest of the world.
Speaking at a joint press conference to announce the partnership in Davos, President Kagame welcomed the initiative by Pfizer, pointing out that rapid and affordable access to the most advanced medicines and vaccines is the cornerstone of global health equity.
“Pfizer’s commitment under the Accord program sets a new standard in this regard, which we hope to see emulated by others,”
“Combined with additional investments in strengthening Africa’s public health systems and pharmaceutical regulators, the Accord is an important step toward sustainable health security for countries at every income level,” President Kagame said, reiterating Rwanda’s commitment to the deal.
“Rwanda is very happy to take part in Accord, together with partner countries, and we look forward to adding these life-saving medicines and vaccines to our public health arsenal,” he said.
The Pfizer Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Albert Bourla, said that the drug manufacturer is committed to play its role in sealing the gaps in health equity revealed by the pandemic.
“As we learned in the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout, supply is only the first step to helping patients. We will work closely with global health leaders to make improvements in diagnosis, education, infrastructure, storage and more,”
“Only when all the obstacles are overcome can we end healthcare inequities and deliver for all patients,” Bourla said during a session at the W
The Accord countries include all 27 low-income countries as well as 18 lower-middle-income countries that have transitioned from low to lower-middle-income classification in the last ten years.
Pfizer will work with healthcare officials in Rwanda, Ghana, Malawi, Senegal and
Uganda to identify early insights and opportunities to ensure all medicines and vaccines can reach those in need.
This will include expertise to support diagnosis, healthcare professional education and training along with supply chain management and other infrastructure enhancements.
Learnings from these five countries will be applied to support the roll out for the remaining forty countries.
Pfizer will also collaborate with Accord participants to identify quick and efficient regulatory pathways and procurement processes to reduce the longer amount of time it can take to make new medicines and vaccines available in these countries.
Under the Accord, Pfizer has committed to provide 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, certain cancers, and rare and inflammatory diseases.
Making these medicines and vaccines more readily available has the potential to treat non-communicable and infectious diseases that claim the lives of nearly one million people each year in these countries and chronic diseases that significantly impact quality of life for at least half a million more.
As Pfizer launches new medicines and vaccines, those products will also be included
in the Accord portfolio on a not-for-profit basis. The Accord also aims to establish faster access to Pfizer’s future pipeline medicines and vaccines on a not-for-profit-basis to the 45 countries, particularly those that treat diseases that disproportionately impact global health.
To further this commitment, Pfizer, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is advancing work on the development of vaccine candidates for the prevention of Group B Streptococcus (GBS), which is a leading cause of stillbirth and newborn mortality in low-income countries.
They are also discussing opportunities to support Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine development, another maternal vaccine.
“Everyone, no matter where they live, should have the same access to innovative, life-saving drugs and vaccines,” said Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
African leaders welcome move
African leaders whose countries have committed to the accord have welcomed the ground breaking deal, saying it will go a long way in boosting the quality of healthcare on the continent.
“We must continue to strive for quality healthcare for all people to live longer, stronger and healthier lives,” said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, while President Macky Sall of Senegal said that it will require strong cooperation between the public and private sectors for the partnership to work well.
“We are proud to join this Accord to work together on this important goal. Senegal proudly supports the launch of An Accord for a Healthier World to improve health
equity and outcomes for the people of our country and across the world,” said President Sall.
President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda also hailed the partnership which they said will save millions of people.