At the Africa Week in New York, the chief of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency urges development partners of Africa to help address the health challenges of the continent.
“It is a fact that Africa is the second most populous continent in the world, with the population projected to grow by 25% by 2050 and 40% by end of the century. Yet the continent has health challenges that need to be addressed in order to support the growing population,” Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the NEPAD Agency made the remarks at the organisation’s event .
During the event on Building public health delivery systems that support Africa’s industrialisation, Dr Mayaki underscored the fact that Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals call for promotion of inclusive and sustainable industrialisation. Pharmaceutical manufacturing and mining are among the priority sectors identified in AU’s programme for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa (AIDA). Africa requires a healthy workforce in order to realise targets for industrialisation which demands an efficient public health delivery system.
Africa continues to grapple with high disease burden, weak health care delivery systems and fragmented markets for medical products and health technologies. As the develoment agency of the African Union, NEPAD has taken critcial steps to address the continent’s disease burden by building systems that provide enabling environment for pharmaceutical sector development. This is through the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) Initiative which provides a sound foundation for strengthening regulatory systems and establishment of strong institutions to ensure long term sustainability.
Other programmes that the NEPAD Agency is facilitating and coordinating in the health sector include, amongst others; malaria vector control, development of research for health and innovation strategy, scientific validation and value addition of herbal remedies in order to promote African Traditional Medicines.
In her opening remarks, NEPAD Agency’s Head of Health Programmes, Mrs Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda maintained that, “You cannot talk of sustainable socio-economic growth without addressing the health of the people who are the drivers of industrialisation.”
During the event, participants explored available options for health financing; promotion of research and development and innovation on medical products and technologies including traditional medicines; local production of medical products and health technologies for stronger health care delivery systems.
Dr Janet Byaruhanga, from NEPAD’s Health programme focused on strenghtening regulatory systems, local production of medical products and access to finance. She stressed the need to provide conducive environment for the private sector to secure capital for increased investment in this sector. In addition, the pharmaceutical sector has huge potential to create jobs for youth through the use of modern technologies.
Speaking on the promotion of investments and creating knowledge based jobs, in improving competitiveness as well as public health, Dr Paul Lartey, founding Chair of Federation of African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (FAPMA), made the case for reliable and sustainable capital for investment in manufacturing and assurance of compliance to good manufacturing practices and standards in order to produce quality medicines.
The World Bank representative, Dr Andreas Seiter, Global Lead-Private Sector HNP, World Bank remarked that Africa should be proud of the achievements made in medicines regulatory harmonisation initiative. He indicated that progress made this far working through the reginal economic communities is commendable. He highlited on achievements made in the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the impact of the African Union Model Law on Medical Products Regulation in assisting countries to review their national laws, adding that the momentum should be maintained.
In addition, the NEPAD Agency is investing in the fight against Tuberculosis and other Occupational Lung Diseases in the Mining Industry starting with Southern Africa. Mrs Chimwemwe Chamdimba, Principal Programme Officer pointed out that TB is the top killer among infectious disesases in Africa. Currently it is being tackled among the most vulnerable populations by looking from three angles: TB and HIV; TB and poverty, and; TB and mining.