The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved the establishment of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation has been established with approval from the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank. Its goal is to significantly increase access to technologies that are used in the production of drugs, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical products.

The new, ground-breaking institution will focus on three key areas: modernizing the pharmaceutical sector in Africa, increasing the continent’s capacity to produce vaccines, and developing a high-quality healthcare system.

“This is a great development for Africa,” stated Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group indicating that Africa needs to strengthen its pharmaceutical sector, increase its capacity to produce vaccines, and develop a high-quality healthcare infrastructure. These three areas will make up its health defense system.

The African Development Bank was urged to promote the creation of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation by the leaders of the continent at the February 2022 African Union Summit in Addis Abeba.

According to Adesina, who made the institution’s case to the African Union, “Africa can no longer outsource the healthcare security of its 1.3 billion citizens to the benevolence of others.”

In a press release copied to JoyNews’ Mahmud Mohammed-Nurudeen, it said, the decision is a huge boost to the continent’s health prospects because it has very little capacity to generate its own medicines and vaccines and has been plagued for decades by a number of diseases and pandemics including COVID19.

More than 70% of all the medications that Africa needs are imported, costing the continent $14 billion annually.

The press release also indicated that the protection of intellectual property rights and the issuance of patents on technologies, know-how, manufacturing processes, and trade secrets have stymied international efforts to rapidly expand the manufacturing of necessary pharmaceutical products, including vaccines, in developing countries, particularly in Africa, in order to ensure greater access.

And because African pharmaceutical firms lack the scouting, negotiating, and bandwidth necessary to interact with multinational pharmaceutical firms, 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.

No institution exists on the ground in Africa to support the practical implementation of Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) on non-exclusive or exclusive licensing of proprietary technologies, know-how and processes.”

This critical and obvious gap will be filled by the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation. Once fully operational, it will be staffed with top-tier experts in the fields of pharmaceutical innovation and development, intellectual property rights, and health policy. It will serve as a transparent middleman, advancing and negotiating on behalf of the African pharmaceutical industry with international and other Southern pharmaceutical companies to share IP-protected technologies, know-how, and patented processes.

According to Adesina, even with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPS Waiver decision, millions of people continue to die from a lack of vaccines and reliable protection. A workable answer will be offered by the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, to support Africa’s access to proprietary technologies, knowledge, know-how, and procedures.

The African Development Bank’s choice to create the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation has been praised by both the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation represents innovative thinking and action by the African Development Bank.

“It provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa”.

For the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus,  “Establishing the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, by the African Development Bank, is a game-changer on accelerating the access of African pharmaceutical companies to IP-protected technologies and know-how in Africa”.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will give priority to innovations, products, and technologies that are primarily targeted at pandemics and other diseases with a high prevalence in Africa. It will also support the improvement of manufacturing plant capacity and regulatory quality to meet World Health Organization requirements, as well as the environment for research and development.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will operate independently and raise funds from a variety of stakeholders, including governments, development finance institutions, philanthropic organizations, among others. It is being established under the auspices of the African Development Bank.

Under its Vision 2030 Pharmaceutical Action Plan, the African Development Bank will increase its pledge to spend at least $3 billion over the next ten years to support the pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing industry. The Foundation’s focus areas will benefit all other recent investments in African pharmaceutical development as well.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will be based in Rwanda. The Foundation, a common benefits institution, will have distinct administrative and governing frameworks. It will encourage and facilitate partnerships between international and African pharmaceutical firms.

With systematic technology learning and upgrading at the plant level, the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will support regional pharmaceutical firms in their local manufacturing activities.

The Foundation will collaborate with African governments, top-tier R&D facilities, and other organizations to boost Africa’s regional pharmaceutical and vaccine innovation ecosystem and develop the necessary skills for the pharmaceutical industry to grow.

It will also encourage greater coordination of the numerous ongoing regional projects for the production of drugs and vaccines in order to strengthen collaborative ties, take advantage of synergies, and form partnerships across all of Africa.

The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will maintain close relationships with the African Union Commission, European Union Commission, World Health Organization, Medicines Patent Pool, World Trade Organization, philanthropic organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies and institutions, and it will promote cooperation between the public and private sectors in developed and developing countries.