Malawi is among the first five countries to benefit from Pfizer Pharmaceutical through an initiative that seeks to achieve health equity for 1.2 billion people in 45 lower-income countries.
The other beneficiaries are Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda.
Under the initiative, health officials in respective countries will help to identify and resolve challenges beyond supply of medicines and vaccines to inform the roll-out in all the 45 lower-income countries.
President Lazarus Chakwera, who was in Davos, Switzerland, for the 2022 World Economic Forum, has since described the initiative as important in Malawi’s quest for universal healthcare.
In his speech made available to The Nation on Wednesday and delivered at a media conference where Pfizer Pharmaceutical officially launched the initiative, Chakwera expressed delight at the move.
He said: “This accord is the embodiment of what the World Economic Forum is all about, namely a strategic synergy between decision-makers from government, private sector and civil society to enable these three stakeholders to do together on a global scale what they cannot do alone.”
The initiative also aims to establish faster access to Pfizer Pharmaceutical’s future pipeline medicines and vaccines on a not-for-profit-basis to the 45 lower-income countries, particularly those that treat diseases with disproportionate impact on global health.
To further this commitment, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is also 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.
Chakwera said the beauty of such an initiative for countries like Malawi and Rwanda is that it is not merely a handout, but a real partnership that involves leveraging Pfizer Pharmaceutical’s strength in manufacturing.
The President further said the agreement also signals strength in governance combined with a spirit of shared sacrifice to put human progress ahead of business profits and political posturing.
Pfizer Pharmaceutical chairperson and chief executive officer Albert Bourla said the initiative aims at providing all the manufacturer’s patented high quality medicines and vaccines available to the 1.2 billion people.
He said the initiative also seeks to greatly reduce the health inequity that has existed between many lower-income countries and the rest of the world.
“As we learned in the global Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, 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,” said Bourla.
On his part, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said: “Rapid and affordable access to the most advanced medicines and vaccines is the cornerstone of global health equity. Pfizer’s commitment under the accord programme sets a new standard in this regard.”