A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between Atlantic Lifesciences, a Ghanaian company, and Vins Bioproducts, an Indian firm to produce anti-snake venom locally, to save the lives of people who are bitten by snakes, sometimes leading to deaths due to the lack of life-saving vaccines.
The signing of the agreement for Vins Bioproducts to supply bulk quantities of anti-snake venom for the commencement of the fill and finish production of the serum in Ghana, will reduce the burden on government to continuously import the product into the country.
This Anti-snake venom once produced by Atlantic Lifesciences will have the ability to neutralise the effect of venoms from over 19 different species of snakes.
Due to its polyvalent nature, they are ideal for cases where the exact type of snake that bit a person cannot be immediately ascertained.
The local production of anti-snake venom forms part of the objective of the government to make Ghana the hub of vaccines manufacturing in Africa.
Speaking at the signing of the MoU in Accra on Tuesday, October 18, 2023 at the National Vaccine Institute, the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Nsiah Asare, said the production of the anti-snake venom would promote public health in the country.
He said snake bites were a public health burden in the country.
The Presidential Advisor said as part of the Vaccine Roadmap developed by the country, the objective of the government is to make Ghana the hub of vaccine manufacturing and export in Africa.
Dr Asare said, “The production of vaccines locally is not a fluke, and the ready-to-fill anti-snake venom bulk is already in the country.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Lifesciences, Dhananjay Tripathi, said the World Health Organisation, WHO considered snake bite as a neglected tropical disease that plagued rural communities.
He said Pharmanova and Atlantic Lifesciences had played critical roles in importing anti-snake venom on behalf of the government, and that in 2017 his outfit considered the move to start local production of vaccines, especially anti-snake serum.
Mr Tripathi said Ghana would be the first country in West Africa to produce and package anti-snake venom for local use and export.
The Executive Director of Vins Bioproducts Limited, Siddarth Daga, said his outfit was a leading producer of vaccines.
He said he was excited his outfit was collaborating with Atlantic Lifesciences to produce anti-snake venom in Ghana.
Mr Daga said the partnership would help position Ghana to be the leader in vaccines production in Africa.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, in a speech read on his behalf, said the COVID-19 disrupted health systems, ravaged economies and laid bare the vulnerabilities of countries.
He noted that Ghana could not rely on imported vaccines to meet her health needs.
The Minister of Health said as the country weans itself of the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative, it is important to produce its vaccine needs locally.
Mr Manu said it is in that direction the government is supporting the private sector to produce vaccines locally to help promote healthcare delivery.
The World Health Organization Country Representative for Ghana, Professor Francis Kasolo, in a speech read on his behalf, said on the average 9,600 snake bites were recorded each year from 2015 to 2019.
Incidents of snakebites are a huge problem especially to farmers and inhabitants of the northern part of Ghana who suffer snake bites almost on a daily basis.
“WHO is thus pleased with the signing of this MoU that signifies a joint effort to improve the availability and accessibility of safe, effective and affordable anti-snake venom, which is crucial in saving lives and reducing the mortality rate associated with snakebites,”he stated.
The heads of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) also witnessed the historic signing ceremony.