Dr. Karim Bendhaou

Head of Africa Bureau, Merck Group

    Dr.Karim Bendhaou (MD, MBA) has served as President of North and West Africa operations (40 countries of Africa) for Merck for over 18 years till September 2018. Since then, he heads the Africa Bureau and coordinates all of Merck’s corporate, strategic and executive decisions in Africa. In August 2019, he was appointed as Africa Engagement Committee Chair of the IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations). He holds a Doctorate in Medicine from Algiers and Paris, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. A real pioneer, he has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for almost 22 years, building up strong pan-African organisations, gaining extensive experience in biotech medicines and bio similars, and leading a successful enterprise; all while keeping the patient in mind and increasing the commitment of the organisation to the UNDG and to high ethical values. In 2007, he was one of the initiators of the joint program with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the elimination of Schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease in Africa. Passionate about Africa, he is highly committed to driving the continent forward, helping through public-private partnerships, to lead the improvement of health care with a focus on Digital Technology and adoption of innovative ideas. Through the various corporate social responsibility projects, he has worked together with governments and Non-Governmental Organisations to assure access to treatment. He has recently been involved in equitable access to vaccines through the dissemination of technology allowing the manufacture and local filling of the vaccine. He is also a sponsor of several start-ups fighting against falsified medicines and others working for the establishment of a system ensuring the supply sustainability for Africa regardless of the events that may affect the planet. He is member of different Pharma associations and organisations: PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), LEEM (Les Entreprises du Médicament), GEIP (Groupement des Exportateursde l’Industrie Pharmaceutique), LEMM (Les Entrerprises du Médicament au Maroc), SEPHIRE (Syndicatdes Entreprises Pharmaceutiques Innovanteset de Recherche) and Africa Engagement Committee Chair of the IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations).

    4:20pm – 5:20pm EAT

    Tuesday, 9 March 2021 Day 2

    Vaccine Research, Development and Manufacturing on the African Continent

    Hosted by Amref Health Africa

    The coordination and collaboration of diverse partners – including governments, academia, foundations, the private sector and more – to accelerate the development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in record time is a remarkable testament to modern scientific capabilities. However, as the international community continues to advance COVID-19 vaccine research, development, manufacturing, and distribution, the available vaccine supply currently falls far short of global demand.

    WHO has noted that Africa is too often at the back of the queue for new technologies and public health interventions, including vaccines. Africa accounts for over 15% of the global population, yet less than 1% of the world’s vaccine production. In addition, even though the region still imports 70%-90% of pharmaceuticals used in Africa, local manufacturing is poised with untapped capacity that can be urgently prioritized in the face of COVID-19 related shortages. It is therefore imperative for the continent’s leadership to remain engaged and fully involved in the global research and development ecosystem.

    Amid the global shortfall of COVID-19 vaccines, there is growing focus on opportunities to scale up vaccine production capacity in Africa. Strengthening vaccine research, development and manufacturing capacity on the continent will set countries up to meet demand for other vaccines, and to respond to future pandemics and health emergencies. This session will explore key topics around advancing vaccine R&D and manufacturing in Africa, from expanding capacity for clinical trials to developing the nascent manufacturing industry. Experts at the forefront of driving health innovation on the continent will share their perspectives on how to leverage COVID-19 to accelerate local vaccine R&D and production in Africa, challenges to achieving this and the risks of ignoring this opportunity.