Rephaiah, a research focused pharmaceutical company registered in Iceland has partnered Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), a leading science and medical institution in Malawi to manufacture vaccines, fluids, antibiotics and painkillers in a deal worth US$33 million (about K33 billion).
Kuhes has an ambitious strategic plan of establishing a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with over 7000 square meters and construction is projected to start in the first quarter of 2023.
Dean of School of Life Sciences and Allied Health Professionals, at KUHES, Associate Prof Arox Kamng’ona said when COVID-19 hit, people were asking where College of Medicine is (as it was known then) saying 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 coronavirus disease. All we offered was our expert training in patient care. We were urged by the Minister of Health and by The President to rise to the challenge.”
“The university has placed research and manufacturing of medicine at the top of our deliverables and we intend to meet this target within the next five years,” said Kamng’ona.
He said when completed, the pharmaceutical manufacturing plant will be able to manufacture vaccines, fluids, antibiotics and painkillers.
“As a university we realize we need partners with complementary skill sets and expertise. We have found in Rephaiah a perfect partner,” said Kamng’ona.
Rephaiah’s mission in Malawi is to establish a not-for-profit pharmaceutical manufacturing entity and its core business is pediatric medicines because very few medicines are developed with the special needs of children in mind.
In Malawi Rephaiah has established a Not-for-Profit pharmaceutical manufacturing entity with Hellen Chabunya as one of its directors.
“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 Rephaiah will be fully owned and operated by indigenous Malawians once we have fully leverage on the global expertise we have with our partners and have trained the necessary people for the sustainable continuity of this business in keeping with our mission and service to Malawi,” said Chabunya.
Founder of Rephaiah Prof Sveinbjorn Gizurarson said Rephaiah couldn’t find a more perfect partner than KUHeS.
This is an institution already in the business of providing the best care for patients, Rephaiah and KUHeS have shared common values and together we have the expertise to set our goal on Malawians manufacturing medicines for both a national and an international market.
“There is already a strong demand for certain drugs in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa and we see therefore no need to wait any longer for manufacturing to start”, said Prof Sveinbjorn.
The two institutions plan to start small scale manufacturing at the current Kamuzu University site in Blantyre as they wait for the construction of the much bigger facility near Chileka airport.
The team toured some facilities that can be renovated to meet WHO standards for manufacturing of medicines.
The two organisations committed to clearing the legal and agreement terms before the end of this year with possible manufacturing commencement in 2023.