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Developing Africa’s pharmaceutical sector crucial- ECA




The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says there is an urgent need to develop the pharmaceutical sector in Africa to reduce the continent’s dependence on imported pharmaceutical and medical products.

Mr Soteri Gatera, the ECA’s Chief of Industrialisation and Infrastructure Section, said this in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday.

Gatera spoke in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at a meeting hosted by the ECA, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

He said Africa bore disproportionate burden of disease with, for example, more than 70 per cent of the world’s HIV/AIDS cases and 90 per cent of deaths due to malaria raising the need to encourage local production of drugs.

“Non-communicable diseases are also becoming increasingly prominent across the continent given the demographic changes that are taking place.”

He said that non-communicable diseases were predicted to overtake infectious diseases as the leading causes of death in Africa by 2030.

According to him, the situation is made worse by the continent’s significant challenges in accessing high-quality pharmaceuticals, exacerbating a continued high burden of disease.

Gatera also said that the availability of essential drugs in the public sector across the continent had  been reported to be less than 60 per cent.

“The major factor being that Africa is hugely dependent on imported pharmaceutical and medical products.

“It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of Anti-Retrovirals (ARVs) used on the continent are imported from outside the continent with 70 per cent of the pharmaceutical and medical products market being served by foreign imports.

“An international standard, commercially viable pharmaceutical industry in Africa can contribute to improved access to effective, safe and affordable essential medicines and economic development”, he said.

Gatera said that from the health perspective, a key potential benefit was to develop a source of quality assured medicines across products including those for the pandemic diseases (HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria) and the broader range of essential medicines.

He said that through proximity of production, resource-constrained regulators could properly oversee the manufacturing of products produced in the region compared to the level of scrutiny possible for distant suppliers.

According to Gatera, the immense need for drugs presents a potential market opportunity for pharmaceutical companies on the continent.

“For example, the current number of persons on ARV treatment on the continent represents a market opportunity of over one billion dollars.

“This market will more than triple over the next decade as more people are placed on ARV treatment and other uses of ARVs are expanded.

“The total pharmaceutical spending for the continent in 2012 was estimated at 18 billion dollars and it is projected to reach 45 billion dollars by 2020.”

Gatera said that in addition to providing a secure source of medicines and a potentially large market, local production of pharmaceuticals also advance industrial development and move the continent towards sustainability of the health sector response.

Other advantages are reduced external dependency, facilitation of stronger regulatory oversight to curtail counterfeit products, job creation and improved trade balance.

He said it also enabled production of drugs for diseases that primarily affected Africa and could serve as a catalyst to developing a broader manufacturing and knowledge-based economy.

He said some measures had been taken by the AUC and its partners to promote the manufacture of medicines in Africa in line with the accelerated industrialisation initiative for the continent’s socio-economic transformation.

The untapped opportunities lend themselves to a wide array of partnerships for the promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

“The partnerships would create higher-skilled jobs, build equitable societies and safeguard the environment, while sustaining economic growth,” he said.

According to the statement, the workshop seeks to validate an ECA report titled: “Review of Policies and Strategies for the Pharmaceutical Production Sector in Africa: Policy coherence, best practices and future prospective.”

The policies and strategies for the pharmaceutical sector in Africa are reviewed with a view to assess the level of policy coherence, capturing best practices and painting future prospects for the sector.

The report provides an overview of the status of pharmaceutical production in Africa and identifies levels and quality of production on the continent.

Vision 2063: AUC to partner with institutions on infrastructure deficit




The African Union Commission (AUC), says it will partner with institutions and organizations that have the capacity to fix the infrastructure deficit on the continent to ensure realization of its Vision 2063 Goal.

The Senior Technical Advisor, Department of Trade and Industry, AUC, Dr Oswald Chinyamakabru, said this at the 2018 Intra-Africa Meteorology System (AFRIMET) General Assembly in Enugu, South-Eastern Nigeria.

Chinyamakabru said that the AU was committed to achieving the 2063 goal aimed at reducing poverty significantly in member countries.

He said member nations were encouraged to develop critical sectors of their economies that would support the continental vision.

According to him, AFRIMET by its activities is a worthy partner that the union cannot afford to neglect:

“AFRIMET is an important partner in the development of the continent because meteorology will enable Africa stay competitive in the global economy.”

Chinyamakabru congratulated Nigeria on hosting the continental event, adding that the country had shown much commitment in ensuring that the continental vision was achieved.

Earlier, the Director-General of Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), Mr Osita Aboloma, said that the meeting would enable stakeholders brainstorm on the science of measurement, accuracy and traceability.

Aboloma said that the hosting of the meeting was a further boost to the awareness creation of the benefits of meteorology in driving the National Quality Infrastructure project.

“We have over the last three decades made huge investments into developing human capacities in the field of meteorology with encouragement from development partners.

“However, we still require a lot more trainings to update the capacities of staff of the National Meteorology Institute (NMI),”  he said.

Aboloma said that meteorology services hold a lot of benefits for the Nigerian economy and the welfare of the people.

He said that the NMI in Enugu would become functional before the end of 2018.

Aboloma also appealed to Enugu State Government to support efforts of SON by constructing the road leading to the institute, which he said was in deplorable condition:

“The road is presently in a very bad state and almost impassable during rainy seasons.”

In a goodwill message, the Chairman, Governing Council of SON, Mr Akpan Edet, said that AFRIMET had a noble objective which includes creating awareness in the science of accurate measurement in Africa.

Edet said the organization would also promote equity in trade as well as foster competitiveness and quality in the manufacturing sector in order to promote trade and commerce.

He said that the ongoing development of the NMI in Enugu was a demonstration that the Nigerian government was committed to the establishment of a virile national measurement system.

The event was attended by delegates Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tunisia, Zambia, Sudan, Rwanda, and Swaziland, among others.