As of March 2022, Africa had a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. The health needs of this population are massive, and they are increasing by the day. Unfortunately, local manufacturing of medical commodities in Africa is not growing at the same pace as the population. Africa is importing more than 80 percent of her medical products. This heavy dependence on other nations for the supply of medical commodities predisposes the continent to disruptions in meeting health needs in the event of political, economic, and/or social upheaval in the countries that it depends on. The effects of this dependence became evident in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic where some African nations could not respond to the demand for medical services due to lack of essential medical commodities. Although the need for self-reliance through local production of medical commodities existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic, its cruciality was continentally acknowledged following the full-blown effects of the pandemic.
Through local manufacturing of medical commodities, Africa can meet the snowballing needs of the population quickly. Shipping of medical commodities from one continent to another lasts weeks to months. If the environment in the country supplying a product is disrupted in any way, the waiting time becomes longer, and depending on the health need, lives may be at risk. In an evidence brief published in the German Health Practice Collection (GHPC), local manufacturing will help to establish strong health systems in Africa. National governments will be prompted to increase funding for production to improve medicines access, enhance skill in readiness for local manufacturing, and public and non-profit procurements will become more responsive to health needs.
Africa carries a heavy burden of many diseases globally. According to the World Malaria Report 2020, Africa reported approximately 228 million cases of malaria, which accounted for 95% of the global burden and about 602,000 deaths, which accounted for approximately 96% of deaths globally. Six African countries accounted for about 55% of the cases globally and more than 50% of deaths.
About two-thirds of the deaths were caused by disruptions paused by COVID-19 pandemic for the supply of diagnosis, management, and treatment commodities. World Health Organization recommends early diagnosis and treatment of malaria as a critical action of reducing the disease burden and mortality rates. Still on the same subject of disease burden, approximately 120 million children under 5 years suffer due to distress in their respiratory systems.
While there are existing solutions to address this challenge, most of them have been designed for high resource settings. Majority of, if not all, African countries are far from being classified as high resource settings.
AHB curated the Africa Health Business Symposium (AHBS) under the theme: The role of the private sector in advancing women’s health in Africa with the objective to prioritise, explore and strengthen the role of the private sector in advancing women’s health on the continent.
Learn more at: www.africahealthbusiness.com