Saturday, January 24, 2015

Transforming Healthcare Technology in Africa

By Esther Nakkazi
Fifty health experts from Africa and overseas gathered  in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week to prioritise mechanisms that will enable sustained health innovation in Africa. 

Particularly, the Ebola Virus diagnostics and therapeutics potentials discovered from Africa were discussed and a fund to support them was established.  

The conference was convened  by the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), in partnership with UNICEF were high impact technologies that can transform healthcare delivery were prioritised. 

This new African-based fund, equipped with grant making and social venture arms to support the initiative, would ensure development, implementation and commercialization of technologies emanating from African Centres of Excellence and other sources. 

It will also support partnership building, the operationalization of the African regulatory harmonization activities, and promote local research into Ebola and other emergent infectious diseases. Establishment of incubators for innovation and engagement with the private sector will be pivotal for realizing this ambition.

This proposal comes as the Heads of State of the African Union (AU) start their annual meeting in Addis Ababa this week, to discuss Ebola and health system strengthening in Africa among other key issues.

The meeting was attended by heads of leading African institutions such as the African Union Commission (AUC), financial institutions, the World Bank, other international and multilateral organizations. Donors, multinational technology companies, entrepreneurs and NGOs were also represented.

The Experts in attendance highlighted the leadership role ANDI is demonstrating on innovation issues in Africa, and recommended that ANDI work closely with AUC in the implementation and promotion of health innovation by Africans within Africa.

“This 3-day conference has been extraordinary,” said Dr Solomon Nwaka, the Executive Director of ANDI, who orchestrated the event. “The technologies discussed at this meeting demonstrate the health innovation potential existing within the African continent. With the establishment of the right enablers such as a sustainable financing mechanism, African R&D institutions and entrepreneurs will be able to collaborate in order to solve the health challenges of the continent and contribute to development.”

The Vice-Chair of ANDI Board, Dr Tshinko Ilunga, thanked the experts for their contribution, stating: “The current Ebola outbreak is a stark reminder of the pressing need to strengthen local health and innovation systems in Africa.”

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