Last Updated on: 18th December 2022, 02:37 am
Kigali, Rwanda, Dec. 17, 2022: Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The agreement is focused on strengthening the African manufacturing of malaria medicines on the margins of the 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2022), held in Kigali, Rwanda.
The objective of the MoU is to jointly enhance supply security and facilitate equitable access to quality approved antimalarials and thereby maximize the use and health impact of existing products on the continent.
Through the MoU, MMV and the Africa CDC have affirmed their commitment to join efforts to achieve a common objective: to strengthen Africa’s manufacturing capability to tackle diseases like malaria that continue to plague the African continent.
“MMV and Africa CDC share a common goal of delivering quality-assured essential medicines produced in Africa,” said Pierre Hugo, MMV’s Senior Director of Market Dynamics and Global Partnerships.
“We believe that targeted investments and collaboration with select manufacturers will create opportunities to expand access to quality antimalarials throughout both the public and private sectors.”
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The MoU further outlines how MMV and Africa CDC will work with partners to ensure funding and procurement of locally manufactured quality-assured medicines.
This includes advocacy to AU Member States to implement free trade agreements to ensure regional distribution of locally manufactured, quality-assured medicines.
“Africa is capable of manufacturing its medicines”, said Dr Nicaise Ndembi, Africa CDC’s Senior Science Advisor.
“The partnership between Africa CDC and MMV will increase local medicine manufacturing and focus on establishing several regional hubs to manufacture Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and Finished Pharmaceutical Products (FPP).”
The collaboration will support African Union Member States and is aimed at accelerating and scaling-up African manufacturing, building on existing capacities and developing new ones to support the manufacture of quality-assured malaria APIs and FPPs.
The potential benefits of such collaboration were highlighted with the recent WHO prequalification of a sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, a medicine which protects pregnant women from malaria, by Kenya-based Universal Corporation Limited (UCL), supported by MMV.
Background on the malaria burden
According to the latest WHO World Malaria Report released on December 8, 2022, there were an estimated 619 000 malaria deaths globally in 2021 compared to 625 000 in the first year of the pandemic. In 2019, before the pandemic struck, the number of deaths stood at 568 000.
Malaria cases continued to rise between 2020 and 2021, but at a slower rate than in the period 2019 to 2020. The global tally of malaria cases reached 247 million in 2021, compared to 245 million in 2020 and 232 million in 2019.
Despite successes, including an expansion of Seasonal malaria chemoprevention (SMC) and an increase of delivered Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), eradication efforts face many challenges, particularly in the African Region, which shouldered about 95% of cases and 96% of deaths globally in 2021.
Children under the age of 5 accounted for nearly 80% of all malaria deaths in the region.
In 2021, four countries in the African Region – Nigeria (26.6%), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (12.3%), Uganda (5.1%) and Mozambique (4.1%) – accounted for nearly half of all malaria cases globally.
Background on African manufacturing
Currently, pharmaceutical products are manufactured in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt. Africa currently imports between 70-90% of its pharmaceutical and medical consumables.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated Africa’s vulnerabilities linked to over-reliance on imported drugs from Asia when imports of pharmaceutical products slowed to a halt.
A stronger African manufacturing supply security will help the continent be better prepared to respond to future health crises and therefore also has implications for global health security.
With almost 1,500 prequalified products, the WHO prequalification has become a trusted and reputed symbol for safety, quality and efficacy across stakeholders.
By APO Group