Sanctions and incentives may be required for African countries to implement the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, a venture by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.
“It will require goodwill and commitment from countries. Where countries don’t commit, we will have to use other measures. We might look at whether we want to impose sanctions on those countries or come up with incentives,” said Dr Precious Motsoso, co-chair at the WHO Pandemic Prevention Preparedness and Response.
“It might take a miracle to get all the 54 countries to cooperate, but we are optimistic,” Dr Motsoso added.
According to AfDB, the foundation will help African pharmaceutical companies scout for technologies and negotiate with global pharma to facilitate local production of fundamental health products that take up to $14 billion of Africa’s income annually.
The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing countries to import vastly to meet demand.
AfDB says the foundation, which was introduced in Kigali on Wednesday on the side-lines of the Conference on Public Health in Africa, will support direct implementation of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) on non-exclusive or exclusive licensing of proprietary technologies and know-how.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina called on countries to develop pharmaceutical manufacturing industries on a national level to leverage the benefits of the foundation.
“It is important for governments to ensure national health sovereignty and minimum security of supply of critical pharmaceutical products. A competitive pharmaceutical industry can participate and create an uneconomically viable industrial base and thus contribute to economic growth, reduce dependence on imports, trade quality jobs and improve the trade balance,” Dr Adesina said.
Participants at the conference recommended that African governments own the intellectual property rights of the drugs manufactured locally.
Additional reporting by Moses Gahigi