African-based researchers and institutions have the capacity to develop new drugs and diagnostic tools for diseases affecting Africans, but are hampered by a lack of coordination and funding to the continent, a new study has shown.
The study, conducted by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) - a programme sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) - in collaboration with African institutions, was released at the just concluded first meeting of the new African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
At the meeting, participants from 21 countries committed to a network approach to increase the ability of African countries to bring forward new medicines and diagnostics.
The study also highlighted the need for a systematic evaluation and validation of the biological activities of traditional medicines.
This initial report of the 4 UN organizations sponsoring TDR (UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and WHO), along with the commitment from the African countries, will be used to build support and collaboration with health experts, high level national officials, business leaders, international organizations, donors and policy makers.
The goal is to develop locally sustainable health research and development, coordinated through an African-based and led organization.
TDR Director Robert Ridley said, "ANDI will help connect people and give African scientists the opportunities to lead and manage this research and development. We believe that this approach will lead to long-term sustainability and success".
Nigeria’s Vice President Goodluck Jonathan said "Nigeria is in full support for ANDI. We understand the pivotal role of R&D to national development".
Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and malaria account for about 60% of the mortality and morbidity in Africa.
There are pockets of product discovery and development activities in Africa, but no one African country or institution has demonstrated the capacity to move from basic research to the commercialization of a new drug.
Tom Mboya-Okeyo, Ambassador of Kenya in Geneva, who led the concluding session, said, "ANDI is a valuable niche in the global strategy."
He was referring to the efforts by the WHO to develop a plan to increase Research & Development and intellectual property management across the globe. Panapress.