Scaling up African pharmaceutical manufacturing in a time of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to global supply chains. Africa is particularly vulnerable with respect to pharmaceuticals, both because between 70 and 90 percent are imported and because the continent generally lacks the political sway and bargaining power of other regions. In the short-term, the most acute issue is the need for huge quantities of quality-assured protective equipment, tests and medicines to treat the symptoms of COVID-19. Significant shortages of other essential medicines could materialize. With access to such essential medical products across the continent challenged, there has been a commensurate uptick in substandard and falsified products related to the testing or treatment of COVID-19.
But many countries in Africa have underutilized capacity to produce quality-assured, essential pharmaceutical products locally. In Nigeria, one of the countries with the greatest potential for rapidly scaling up production, pharmaceutical manufacturing production currently utilizes around 40 percent of actual installed capacity. Manufacturing output remains lower than its potential in part due to inconsistent demand, challenges in sourcing active and raw ingredients, unfavorable market conditions, and a lack of available investment to scale up operations, modernize equipment, and resolve local infrastructure limitations. Here are some ways to make use of this potential.
Insufficient knowledge about the real capacity of local manufacturing sectors, sources of component parts, and expected market demand is hindering efforts to make use of local excess capacity. Pharmaceutical manufacturing associations—along with market intelligence firms, multilateral agencies, and international donors—should lead a comprehensive mapping of the existing technical capacity, resources, and sources of raw materials available on the continent. Meanwhile, governments should work to forecast demand for locally produced products and create a favorable policy environment for local manufacturers to compete with producers from abroad, allowing them to better manage the risk associated with capital investments for scale up.
Manufacturers and regulators must work to improve quality by applying international public quality standards to gain a competitive foothold, not only locally but in the broader global supply chain.
The African Medicines Agency (AMA), a continental effort to harmonize medicines regulation, should be fully ratified and quickly scaled up to advance regulatory reliance, mutual recognition, and risk-based regulatory practices. The AMA will help support production of active ingredients in Africa, streamline market access, and reduce barriers to market entry for manufacturers. As of April 30, eleven countries had signed it and two had ratified it.
Progress can already be seen on multiple fronts. Ethiopia and South Africa have developed national strategies and manufacturing roadmaps that address common pitfalls such as sourcing active ingredients; addressing financial barriers; and improving quality in line with international standards. And these plans are starting to translate into specific gains. South Africa and Egypt are beginning to produce active ingredients locally—the first step in overcoming a major hurdle that makes it difficult for African manufacturers to compete with imported products from Asia. Ethiopia, meanwhile, is developing a pharmaceutical manufacturing industrial park to spur national and regional manufacturing activities.
National central banks, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, are working to stimulate the sector by extending lines of credit to local manufacturers. In addition, Afrexim Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the African Center for Disease Control recently announced emergency interventions to rapidly respond to supply and policy gaps, including for medical products. Afrexim Bank further announced a $3 billion funding facility that includes funding to support local production of COVID-19 related health products. As part of this effort, UNECA and Afrexim Bank have compiled a list of fifty local pharmaceutical companies which have the capacity or have shown interest in supplying priority products.
COVID-19 is expected to drive countries to enact procurement incentives such as prioritizing and incentivizing the procurement of locally produced products, providing advanced market commitments, and establishing pooled procurement mechanisms such as those being developed by UNECA, the Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (FAPMA), and the WHO. Countries should also push global procurement agencies to consider similar incentives to further support the continent’s nascent pharmaceutical industry. Scaling up African pharmaceutical capacity will help provide sustainable access to quality medical products and increase health security during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Emily Kaine, MD, is the senior vice president for global health at the U.S. Pharmacopeia. Jude Nwokike is a vice president for global public health at the U.S. Pharmacopeia.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
FG Plans Staggered Re-Opening Of Schools
THE Federal Government has revealed that it may stagger re-opening of schools across the country as it plans to roll out comprehensive measures for safety. Minster of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, made this known on Wednesday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, in Abuja… Read full story
COVID-19: Longest Viability Period Of Virus In Patient Is 10 Days — NCDC
The longest viability period of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) patient would be 10 days, according to a new study by infectious diseases experts in Singapore. The Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, disclosed this at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) media… Read full story
Cold: Why You Must Test For COVID-19 At Once
WHEN the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus spread across the globe, researchers are getting a better understanding of how these symptoms: headache, chill or sore throat… Read full story
CBN Governor, Investors And Parallel Market
THE virtual meeting that the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, had with investors last week where he pleaded with them to stop patronising black market operators for dollar purchases leaves much to be desired. Mr Emefiele had, at the meeting, stated: “We have seen your accounts… Read full story
COVID-19: 8,000 Workers Sacked In Anambra
About 8,000 staff members of a waste management company in Anambra State have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is coming as states have locked down their boundaries to stop the spread of the COVID-19. Managing Director, Redivivus Industries Ltd., Mr Emeka Ajekwu, who… Read full story
The World Of A Child With Autism
AGNES is five years old but is yet to speak in a meaningful way. She tends to use a limited number of words and often uses ‘you’ when she means to refer to herself, and then uses ‘I’ when referencing others. Unlike the older two children of the family, Agnes is often pre-occupied with her own world, playing alone and does… Read full story
What Passengers Should Expect Upon Flight Resumption —FAAN
AHEAD of resumption of flights at various airports across the country, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has announced that it has put arrangements in place regarding passenger facilitation and what to expect. Speaking during an aviation webinar organised by Women in Aviation (WIA), Nigeria, with… Read full story
May 29: Buhari Betrayed Underprivileged Nigerians ― PDP
The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has deserted, betrayed and abandoned underprivileged Nigerians. According to the Party, the President should note that the level of despondency he has bequeathed the nation in the last five years of his… Read full story
CBN Reduces Interest Rates On Microfinance, Mortgage Bank Facilities From 9% To 5%
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reduced interest rates on its facilities through participating Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) from 9 per cent to 5 per cent per annum for one year effective March 1, 2020. This is part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on households… Read full story
Why Amotekun Will Fail In 5 States ― Alao-Akala
Former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, on Wednesday said the joint security network code-named Amotekun recently launched by the South-West governors would fail in five states. He said the appointment of retired military officers as directors-general of Amotekun corps in those states except… Read full story
‘Infant Formulas On Sale In Nigeria, High In Arsenic, Toxic Substance’
INFANT formulas sold in Nigeria are useful alternatives to breast milk in many circumstances but may pose health risks to infants and children due to contamination by potentially toxic metals, a study has said. In the study published in the 2020 Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, scientists tested different brands of … Read full story
Lagos Announces Plan To Replace Okada, Tricycle By July
Lagos State government has announced plans to replace banned Okada and tricycle with First Mile and Last Mile (FMLM) mobility solution. The transportation commissioner, Frederick Oladeinde made this known at the 2020 ministerial press briefing held in Lagos… Read full story