News / Health

    Africa's Pharmaceutical Industry Faces Numerous Challenges

    Employees inspect medication tablets produced at Azal Pharmaceutical Industries in Khartoum, (File photo).
    Employees inspect medication tablets produced at Azal Pharmaceutical Industries in Khartoum, (File photo).
    Marthe van der Wolf
    Providing Africans with affordable health care could be realized if pharmaceutical products were produced on the African continent. The continent faces many challenges before it will be able produce its own medicines.

    African and Chinese delegations came together this week at the Roundtable on China-Africa Health Cooperation to discuss how Africa can start producing health care products on the continent.  This could help African countries provide their citizens with a stable supply of quality medicines.
     
    Feng Zhao of the African Development Bank said that producing locally could bring many benefits for the continent.  "If you look at the pharmaceutical sector now, the size is very small compared to the global overall size.  Africa is now less than 1 percent of the global share," noted Zhao. "It has a great potential to grow, the average growth rate is expected to be more than 10 percent."

    The sector would also create high quality jobs and bring more technology to the continent.
     
    Africa suffers frequent bouts of many preventable diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis.  But the medicines to treat these diseases are imported from outside the continent.  And the cost of those imports weighs heavily on the health care budgets of many African countries.
     
    But producing health care products in Africa comes with many challenges, said Janet Byaruhanga of the African Union Health Office.  “Our health systems are not adequate enough to address some of the challenges that the continent is facing.  That includes human resources for health, that includes the facilities in terms of hospitals, clinics, laboratories and all of those things.  Then we also have issues around low funding because the health sector is considered more of a social sector," Byaruhanga stated. "It does not get enough funding, both from the government or even the donors.”

    Although China has much experience in producing its own pharmaceutical products, the country still faces a lot of negative perception towards their medicines, as the World Health Organization hasn't approved most of them yet.
     
    Dr. Ray Yip, who directs the Chinese branch of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said it will probably take 20 to 30 years before Africa produces high quality health products, as the industry is in its initial stages.

    "Many countries, in early days, they are going for low cost and their quality doesn’t always meet the global standard.  Then gradually they move up the value chain," Yip explained. "And they start producing better products.”

    For Africa to become a major player in the pharmaceutical sector, it has to start partnerships with companies outside the continent that have the technology, the people and the intellectual property.
     
    The African Union has started with the development of a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa to promote private-public partnerships to push the pharmaceutical sector.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora