By Bukola Afeni
The African Development Bank has said Africa should no longer outsource the health care security of its 1.3 Billion citizens to the benevolence of another continent, stating also that there is a need to revamp Africa’s Pharmaceutical industry and build the continent’s vaccine manufacturing capacity.
The African Development Bank President, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina stated this on the sideline of the approval of the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.
The AFDB President said the foundation is a new groundbreaking institution that will significantly enhance Africa’s access to the technologies that underpin the manufacture of medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical products.
“This is a great development for Africa. We must have a healthy defense system, which must include three major areas: revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure,” he said.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina recalled that during the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in February 2022, the continent’s leaders called on the African Development Bank to facilitate the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.
Adesina, who presented the case for the institution to the African Union said the Development Bank has made good on its commitment.
“The decision is a major boost to the health prospects of a continent that has been battered for decades by the burden of several diseases and pandemics such as Covid19, but with very limited capacity to produce its own medicines and vaccines. Africa imports more than 70% of all the medicines it needs, gulping $14 billion per year.”
The AFDB President noted that the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will fill an important and glaring gap in the pharmaceutical industry.
“When fully established, it will be staffed with world-class experts on pharmaceutical innovation and development, intellectual property rights, and health policy; acting as a transparent intermediator advancing and brokering the interests of the African pharmaceutical sector with global and other Southern pharmaceutical companies to share IP-protected technologies, know-how and patented processes.”
Adesina said “Even with the decision of the TRIPS Waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions are dying, and will most likely continue to die, from lack of vaccines and effective protection. The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation provides a practical solution and will help to tilt the access to proprietary technologies, knowledge, know-how, and processes in favor of Africa”.
The AFDB President said African pharmaceutical companies do not have the scouting and negotiation capacity, and bandwidth to engage with global pharmaceutical companies.
“They have been marginalized and left behind in complex global pharmaceutical innovations. Recently, 35 companies signed a license with America’s Merck to produce Nirmatrevir, a Covid-19 drug. None of them was African.
No institution exists on the ground in Africa to support the practical implementation of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) on non-exclusive or exclusive licensing of proprietary technologies, know-how, and processes.”
The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation is innovative thinking and action by the African Development Bank.
While stating that It provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, said establishing the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, by the African Development Bank, is a game-changer in accelerating the access of African pharmaceutical companies to IP-protected technologies and know-how in Africa.
“The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will prioritize technologies, products, and processes focused primarily on diseases that are widely prevalent in Africa, including current and future pandemics. It will also build human and professional skills, the research and development ecosystem, and support upgrading of manufacturing plant capacities and regulatory quality to meet World Health Organization standards.”
While the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation is being established under the auspices of the African Development Bank, it will operate independently and raise funds from various stakeholders including governments, development finance institutions, and philanthropic organizations among others.
The Foundation will boost the African Development Bank’s commitment to spend at least $3 billion over the next 10 years to support the pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing sector under its Vision 2030 Pharmaceutical Action Plan. The Foundation’s areas of work will also be an asset to all other current investments into pharmaceutical production in Africa.