CEM REPORT | The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, the regional Bank has announced
This new groundbreaking institution will significantly enhance Africa’s access to the technologies that underpin the manufacture of medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical products.
The journey towards this fundamental feat started in February 2022 during the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. At the summit, the continent’s leaders called on the African Development Bank to facilitate the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.
This 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.
African Development Bank Group President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said: “This is a great development for Africa. Africa must have a health 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.”
When fully operational, AfDB said the foundation 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.
Until the just approved foundation, African pharmaceutical companies did 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 Nirmatrelvir, a Covid-19 drug. None of them was African.
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 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, philanthropic organizations among others.
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