Written by 11:09 World

Inside the Factory Supplying Half of Africa’s Syringes

On the stunning Kenyan coast, about halfway between 15th-century ruins and the vibrant city of Mombasa, a small factory is helping to achieve one of Africa’s biggest health care goals: self-reliance.

With fewer than 700 employees, Revital Healthcare makes 300 million syringes a year, enough to meet more than half of Africa’s routine immunization needs.

In the throes of the coronavirus pandemic, when governments were faced with vaccinating millions of people amid severe shortages, Revital shipped syringes to Sri Lanka, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan — and even sent 15 million syringes to India, said Roneek Vora, the company’s director of sales and marketing.

“This is the first time ever in the life of Africa that a medical industry is exporting syringes to India, when we know India is a powerhouse of syringe manufacturing,” Mr. Vora said. “This was a very big deal for us — it broke a lot of barriers,” he added.

Revital is richly funded through grants and contracts from many donor organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Save the Children Foundation and multiple arms of the United Nations, and the company has lofty ambitions.

Many of Africa’s attempts at medical self-reliance have been hampered by limited funds, the lack of a robust regulatory system and the challenges in transporting drugs and vaccines. Against that backdrop, Revital’s success offers hope that an African company can manufacture essential products — not just for the continent, but also for export to other countries.

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Last modified: 28 May 2024
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