Challenges and Potential Solutions


31 May 2024, Geneva, Switzerland – UNITAR, Africa CDC, and Empower School of Health hosted a side event at The World Health Assembly. The event, held at UNITAR Headquarters, featured a panel discussion on the challenges faced by Africa in workforce development for health products manufacturing, and the importance of addressing these issues while proposing solutions.

The event was opened by Mr Alex Mejia, the Director of the Division for People and Social Inclusion at UNITAR. He emphasized the need for capacity-building efforts and the importance of adapting education to meet the needs of the target audience. Exemplified by UNITAR and Empower School of Health courses such as the Master in Global Health Procurement and Supply Chain Management. The online postgraduate diploma in global health procurement and supply chain management and the diploma in digital health. 

Mr Alex’s Mejia opening remarks were followed by H.E. Michel Sibidé, who highlighted the need for a holistic approach to health in Africa. He stressed the creation of frameworks to ensure equity and capacity building and called for a new paradigm in addressing health issues with a more effective and adapted approach, such as blended education.

Prof. Paul Lalvani, the founder of Empower School of Health, moderated the panel discussion. He highlighted the new collaboration between Africa CDC and Empower School of Health, which aims to strengthen Africa’s health workforce, including health products manufacturing. Prof. Lalvani underscored the importance of efforts to ineffective supply, encompassing aspects such as technical assistance and digitalization.

Dr Chiluba Mwila’s remarks underscored the panellists' consensus on the importance of establishing good mechanisms for manufacturing, scaling up, and capacity building tailored to the continent’s needs.


The panel discussion with experts addressed critical issues in Africa's health workforce, including the key challenges faced by the continent. Topics included the status of training initiatives to support health products manufacturing in Africa, funding for these training initiatives, and the impact of brain drain on health products manufacturing.

The panel featured a diverse group of experts from pharmaceutical companies and health associations. The main takeaways from the discussion were the need to invest in local manufacturing to prevent brain drain and the necessity of developing bridge institutions that can facilitate cooperation between manufacturing and education, ensuring job opportunities and retaining talent.

The main topics discussed were summarized with an emphasis on a holistic approach, from education to manufacturing at all stages of the health supply chain, to ensure that Africa moves in the right direction and that investment efforts are effective.

In his closing remarks, Prof. Paul Lalvani called for cooperation and adaptation to new challenges in a holistic and community-oriented manner. He emphasized that partnerships like the one between Empower School of Health and Africa CDC can make a significant impact and that educational programmes developed alongside UNITAR can start making a difference.

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