Strengthening access to medicine and pharmaceutical innovation in Africa

Categories:Press Releases
  • Building capacity for pharmaceutical innovation
  • Supporting implementation of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action in Africa

Many African countries have the desire and potential to engage in ‘pharmaceutical innovation’ – the local development and production of medicines and other health interventions, to meet their pressing public health needs. To do this countries need new skills and accurate data on their current situation. Using this, they can design innovation strategies and action plans that are realistic, effective and allow them to negotiate with funders and partners in the pharma industry. Strategies may be national; or regional, pooling the best of skills and services from several countries in a shared ‘innovation pipeline’.

The Yaoundé Process was started in 2007 to support countries in doing this. It aimed to provide a clearer view of the medicines development landscape in Africa and to start a process for countries to define their needs and develop strategies for medicines development.

Mapping of medicines production and access in Africa
The Yaoundé Process study was the first attempt to map the players in the emerging Africa innovation system – from drug discovery, to development, delivery and access. The players include pharmaceutical companies, global health programmes, public-private and product development partnerships, local producers, NGOs and others.

Tool and guidelines for countries to design ‘innovation strategies’
The study also reflected on countries’ needs and capacity development requirements to put local medicines production into action. It analyzed the approaches of several countries and is synthesizing these experiences into a tool to guide health research policy makers and managers in designing strategies for local medicines production and regional cooperation.

The Yaoundé Process concludes in January 2010 with the launch of its Study and Tools for Strengthening Pharmaceutical Innovation in Africa. This is also the starting point of an initiative led by NEPAD and supported by COHRED to work with countries to assess their needs and design action plans.

The study will be reviewed by a group of African experts at a NEPAD technical meting in Pretoria on January 27, 2010. The experts will scrutinize the innovation framework from a technical and operational perspective, in to prepare for its use by African countries to improve access to medicines.

Putting into Action in Africa, the Global Strategy and Plan of Action
This process is one of the first practical steps implementing the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public, Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, and the African Union Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan.

For further information, contact MB, MD and NEPAD contacts,

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