Vaccines have been imported into South Africa since the closure of the State Vaccine Institute in 2001.

This week Biovac opened its new Quality Control Building in Pinelands, Cape Town where health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang acknowledged the daunting task of meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality.

‘€œWe need to focus our interventions on a number of fronts, including the intensification of immunization. A reliable supply of vaccines is an essential weapon in securing the lives of children,’€ Tshabalala-Msimang said.

The present production of the hepatitis B vaccines is for validation and quality testing purposes only and needs to await the green light from the Medicines Control Council.

Set up in 2003, Biovac had been tasked with securing a reliable supply of good quality vaccines for South Africa at an affordable price. As part of the overall goal, it was charged with restoring the country’€™s domestic capacity to manufacture vaccines.

This capacity was lost in 2001 when the State Vaccine Institute closed its doors after its facilities became obsolete as vaccines were upgraded.

The landmark Biovac building (the exterior façade is a high magnification of the lung tissue), is intended for testing of products to ensure all internal standards are met before vaccines proceed to the independent testing centre.

Biovac is also supplying vaccines to Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. The company also assisted in a donation to the Democratic Republic of Congo when the country reported polio cases.

The health department holds 40% of the Biovac Institute, with the remainder held by a consortium comprising: Litha Healthcare Holdings, the Disability Employment Concerns Trust, Heber Biotech of Cuba and Bionet of Thailand.

Author

  • Health-e News

    Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews