Transfer of new business technology brings benefits to the African pharmaceutical industry


The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation is hosted by Rwanda. It is part of the African Development Bank’s commitment to spend at least $3 billion over the next decade to support Africa’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing industries. Medical and pharmaceutical experts pose for a group photo with their colleagues during the forum to introduce the newly launched African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation in Kigali last month. Credit: Aimable Twahirwa/IPS
  • by Aimable Twahirwa (kigali)
  • Inter Press Service

Experts emphasize the need to prioritize technology transfer to revitalize the African pharmaceutical industry, with a major focus on vaccine production capacity and building high-quality healthcare infrastructure.

This is because, while pharmaceuticals are manufactured in countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, the latest estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the continent currently imports more than 80 percent of its pharmaceutical and medical consumables.

At the forum, which recently took place in Kigali, experts discussed some of the challenges and current opportunities to improve the health outlook of a continent that has been ravaged for decades by the burden of various diseases and pandemics such as COVID-19, with a very limited production capacity. its medicines and vaccines.

Participants in the forum, which focused primarily on operationalizing the first-ever African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, discussed how the African Union should meet its goal of having 60% of needed vaccines on the continent by 2040.

While the continent imports more than 70% of all the medicines it needs and gobbles up $14 billion annually, Dr. purchase vaccine.

“The new initiative comes as a solution as most countries still face a challenge to receive them on time,” the senior Rwandan government official told the forum.

Given current efforts to expand production of essential pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, in developing countries, particularly in Africa, experts argue that concerted efforts to promote technology transfer are urgently needed. According to official estimates, Africa imports more than 70% of all the medicines it needs, amounting to US$14 billion a year.

Commenting on this situation, Professor Padmashree Gehi Sampath, Special Adviser to the President on Pharmaceuticals and Health, African Development Bank and Director of Global Access in Action, Harvard University, told the delegates that technology transfer is critical and that the new initiative African countries will help to see what their technological needs are.

“Most pharmaceutical companies in Africa use different types of technology (…) it is important to increase their capacity, which is hampered by protection of intellectual property rights and patents on technologies, know-how, production processes and trade secrets,” the senior bank official tells IPS.

Yet the public health challenges in Africa are well known; some experts believe that improving access to these technologies for pharmaceutical companies is critical to addressing numerous challenges facing the continent’s pharmaceutical industry.

According to Dr Hanan Balkhy, Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the continent faces many challenges before it can produce its medicines.

“Africa suffers from the recurrence of preventable diseases and epidemics, and most of the drugs and vaccines to treat or prevent these diseases are imported from outside the continent,” Balkhy told delegates.

When fully established, the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, which the bank has already endorsed, will be staffed with world-class experts in pharmaceutical innovation and development, intellectual property rights and health policy.

The foundation is also mandated as a transparent intermediary that promotes the interests of the African pharmaceutical industry and brokers global and other southern pharmaceutical companies to share IP-protected technologies, know-how and proprietary processes.

Dr. Precious Matsoso, co-chair of the WHO’s International Negotiating Group on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, stressed the importance of ensuring the resilience of Africa’s health system.

“The establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, by the bank, is a milestone in addressing these barriers we face, such as health equity,” she said.

While being established under the auspices of the African Development Bank, the foundation will operate independently and raise funds from a variety of stakeholders, including governments, development finance institutions and philanthropic organizations.

Dr. Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Initiative (CEPI), told delegates that this foundation was created in time as Africa needs to learn from the pandemic, which could be an important step in building the resilience of its health system. to build .

“These innovative healthcare solutions will help save lives on the continent,” he said.

So far, Rwanda has been selected to host the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation. The foundation is a community benefit organization and will have its own governance and operational structures. It will also promote and mediate alliances between foreign and African pharmaceutical companies.

However, some experts also stressed the need to prioritize the African patent pharmaceutical industry to successfully implement the new initiative.

Professor Carlos Correa, Executive Director, South Centre, Geneva, pointed out that it was important for the region to have their own cadre.

“The production capacity is there, but the technological capacity is crucial to develop vaccines for Africa (….) Timely transfer of technology is also important,” he said.

During the forum, some panelists also stressed the need to create a partnership between African pharmaceutical companies and their counterparts from other continents, such as Europe.

According to Brigit Pickel, Director General for Africa at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, this partnership is important for vaccine production. It applies to the production and supply of other pharmaceutical products.

“We recognize the importance of promoting local pharmaceuticals throughout the value chain in Africa,” she said.

Aside from technology transfer, Professor Fredrick Abbott, Edward Ball Eminent Scholar Professor, Florida State University, USA, pointed out that this initiative cannot work without sustainable funding.

“Countries must develop domestic resources, as providing funding is a critical step to ensure the continuity of promising vaccine and drug clinical development programs,” Abbott told IPS.

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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