As the impact of Covid-19 continues to challenge existing structures and ways of doing things, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Kuhes) plans to establish a $33 million (K33 billion) pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the country.
This comes after the experience the university, formally known as College of Medicine, have had, owing to their level of involvement in the management and response to Covid-19.
According to a statement made available to The Nation, Kuhes has partnered Rephaia, a research-focused pharmaceutical company initially registered in Iceland and has been registered locally as a non-profit pharmaceutical entity.
The statement quotes Associate Professor Arox Kamng’ona , Dean of the School of Life Sciences and Allied Health professionals, who said the university has placed research and manufacturing at the top of their deliverables and they are geared to meet the target in the next five years.
He said: “When Covid-19 hit us, people were asking, where is College of Medicine [as we were known the]. And they were justified to ask such questions. As the leading institution housing advanced medicine research experts in this country, we had no locally developed product to help in the fight against corona virus disease.” he said.
Kuhes and Rephaia held their initial meeting on July 28 2022, where the former disclosed plans to commence construction in Blantyre, of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility covering over 7 000 square metres in the first quarter of 2023.
Kamng’ona said they have found a suitable partner in Rephaia, stressing that the university needs partners with complementary expertise and skills sets to meet the set deliverables.
Rephaiah, whose core business is pediatric medicines, said they already had interest to make Malawi the centre of manufacturing their own products meant for distribution across Africa before the collaboration discussions with Kuhes.
According to the press statement, the two institutions are geared to start small-scale manufacturing at the current Kamuzu University premises in Blantyre as they await construction of the much bigger facility near Chileka Airport in the city.
One of the Malawian directors of Rephaiah, Hellen Chabunya said the firm has been registered in Malawi as the plan is to eventually have complete local ownership.
“Our commitment is to propel Malawi as a center of excellence and preferred supplier for medicines in Africa. Rephaiah was registered in Malawi because our plan is that we will be fully owned and operated by indigenous Malawians,” she said.