THE Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF).
The APTF initiative, the AfDB explained, would enable the continent to meet an annual pharmaceutical sector import bill of $14 billion.
According to the bank, the new institution would further improve Africa’s access to the technologies that underpin the manufacture of medicines, vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.
AfDB Group President Akinwumi Adesina said in a statement about the approval: “This is a great development for Africa. Africa must have a health defense system, which must include three main areas: revamping the African pharmaceutical industry, strengthening Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity and building healthcare infrastructure. quality healthcare in Africa. »
According to Adesina, Africa imports more than 70% of all the medicines it needs.
At the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in February 2022, the continent’s leaders called on the AfDB to facilitate the establishment of the APTF.
Adesina, who then presented the APTF proposal to the African Union, told the forum that Africa could no longer outsource the security of healthcare for its 1.3 billion citizens to the kindness of others.
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With this endorsement, the AfDB confirmed its commitment to the initiative.
The approval is expected to improve health prospects for the African continent, which suffers from diseases and pandemics but has very limited capacity to produce its own medicines and vaccines.
Once fully established, the foundation will be staffed with world-class experts in pharmaceutical innovation and development, intellectual property rights and health policy.
It is also expected to act as a transparent broker advancing and negotiating the interests of the African pharmaceutical sector with global pharmaceutical companies and other pharmaceutical companies in the South in order to share technologies, know-how and patented processes protected by intellectual property.
Adesina, giving more information on the development, said: “Even with the decision of the TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions of people are dying – and most likely will continue. to die – from the lack of vaccines and effective protection.The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation provides a practical solution and will help shift access to proprietary technologies, knowledge, know-how and processes in favor of Africa.
He noted that the WTO and the World Health Organization (WHO) have welcomed and commended the AfDB’s decision to establish the APTF.
Lending her voice to development, WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, “The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation is an innovative thinking and action of the African Development Bank. It provides part of the infrastructure needed to ensure an emerging pharmaceutical industry in Africa.
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In addition, WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “The establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation by the African Development Bank is a game-changer in accelerating access for African pharmaceutical companies to technologies. and know-how protected by intellectual property. in Africa”.
CIRI reports that the APTF will prioritize technologies, products and processes that focus primarily on diseases that are widespread in Africa, including current and future pandemics.
It will also strengthen human and professional skills, the research and development ecosystem, and support the upgrading of manufacturing plant capacities and regulatory quality to meet WHO standards.
The APTF should also strengthen local pharmaceutical companies to engage in local production initiatives with systematic technology learning and plant-level technology upgrading.
It will work with African governments and research and development centers of excellence to strengthen the regional pharmaceutical and vaccine innovation ecosystem for Africa, as well as to develop the skills necessary for the development of the pharmaceutical sector.
The AfDB has confirmed that Rwanda will host the APTF.