Africa urged to increase pharmaceutical manufacturing as cost of medical imports rises

AFRICA – African countries have been called upon to increase the production of medicines and medical equipment on the continent as they are spending large sums of money to import medicines and medical equipment, while populations on the continent continue to die from preventable diseases.

We are losing too many children to diseases due to lack of vaccines, which could be manufactured in Africa,” UN Under-Secretary-General and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe said at the Africa Investment Summit on Health (AIS) held on the sidelines of the 76th United Nations General Assembly.

Imports of medicines and medical equipment rose from US$4.2 billion in 1998 to US$20 billion in 2018 for example. Africa’s private sector can and should be a part of Africa’s health security solution. This will create jobs, build capacity, grow imports and potentially reduce health care costs.”

In his remarks, Aigboje Aig–Imoukhuede, Chairman of African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), said the West Africa AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative, is designed to foster local production of drugs and medical equipment in West Africa and ultimately the rest of the continent, drawing on the lessons of the parent AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative.

He noted that the initiative will provide a Centralised Pooled Procurement Mechanism (CPPM) and showcase health business opportunities for private sector investment that will – in the long run – create jobs, save cost and productivity gains for sustainable and inclusive development in Africa.

Dr. Nkengasong said initiatives like the Partnership for Africa Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) should be encouraged, adding “We are calling for new funding models that are coordinated and aligned with the continental aspirations on local vaccine manufacturing.”

The summit also announced that East Africa’s Biodeal Laboratories had won a bid to receive investment and Good Manufacturing Practice support to manufacture MNCH products under the AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative that had previously been launched in East and Southern Africa countries including small Island States.

The Summit was convened by the ECA, the ABCHealth and the NIH to discuss strategies that will significantly increase access to vital health commodities and supplies in Africa, leveraging the AfCFTA and African Medicines Agency (AMA).

Stakeholders at the summit agreed that there is a necessity to boost Africa’s capacity to manufacture pharmaceutical products that are of quality, safe and internationally recognized to prepare for future pandemics, while creating jobs for young Africans.

The summit brought together businesses, development institutions and philanthropists to catalyze substantial investment in African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, towards significantly increasing access to vital health commodities and supplies in Africa and beyond.

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