Revital Healthcare (EPZ) Limited has received over Kes400 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help ramp up production and plug looming shortage of syringes in low-and middle income countries.
The Kenyan medical supplies manufacturer is expected to use the funds to expand production of auto-disable vaccine syringes amounting to over 256 million annually by the end of next year, a volume enough to cover more than half of the routine immunization needs in Africa.
“We are proud to be part of global efforts to help ensure that Africans have access to life-saving vaccination. Revital Healthcare’s goal is to become the largest medical disposables manufacturer in Africa by 2030, helping the continent produce more of its own crucial healthcare commodities,” sales, marketing and development director Roneek Vora said.
Expanding manufacturing capacity in Africa for critical supplies like syringes is essential to ensure adequate supply for the continent, Vora added.
This comes amid observation by the World Health Organization on the likelihood of a shortage of syringes in Africa.
“Early next year, Covid-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress. Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it,” WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
Revital, a company based in Mombasa, manufactures over 45 medical devices ranging from various types of syringes, rapid Covid antigen test kits, rapid malaria test kits, oxygen products, PPEs, surgical face masks and viral transport medium kits.
The company is the preferred manufacturer for 21 countries around the world as well as for Unicef, WHO and various government agencies.
Global demand for auto-disable syringes has surged in 2021 as the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines has progressed around the world.
Recent estimates projected a significant shortfall in auto-disable syringes next year, which would acutely impact both Covid-19 vaccination and childhood immunization, including the roll-out of new malaria vaccines, in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa.
Expanding Revital’s manufacturing capacity will geographically diversify the global supplier base of syringes, mitigate transportation costs, and help stabilize supply in Africa.
So far there are more than 20 auto-disable syringe makers prequalified by the WHO globally.
Revital Healthcare Ltd is the only WHO prequalified maker for vaccine syringes in Africa that is contracted by Unicef and WHO for syringe supply.
For more than two decades, auto-disable syringes have been the mainstay of vaccination campaigns in low- and middle-income countries, as their fixed needle and locking mechanism prevents re-use, minimizing transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis B and HIV.
“With the increasing availability of new vaccines against Covid-19, we are on the verge of critical shortages of the syringes needed to safely vaccinate people,” director of Global Delivery Programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Orin Levine said.