The newly established African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) aims to propel Africa towards the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Professor Padmashree Gehl Sampath, African Development Bank Senior Advisor on pharmaceuticals and health, shared this bold belief on Monday during a presentation on the APTF ahead of a panel discussion on the first day of the 2023 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Gehl Sampath emphasised the APTF’s objective of fostering regional pharmaceutical production and innovation capabilities, explaining that it aimed not only to augment industrial development and shape robust health policies, but also to strengthen regional health security. She said as an independent institution, the APTF would enhance Africa’s access to the technologies for manufacturing medicines, vaccines, and other pharmaceutical products.
African Development Bank President Adesina initiated the Foundation in response to vaccine shortages in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic, realising that the continent needed to boost its level of preparedness. Gehl Sampath said the APTF aspired to provide “a fair contribution to the global response against pandemics and epidemics,” reflecting a cooperative and inclusive approach.
In their contributions, panellists expressed strong support for the Foundation. The panel included Egypt’s minister for International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, Germany’s governor to the African Development Bank and parliamentary state secretary, Dr Bärbel Kofler, senior advisor on pharmaceuticals and health, Professor Padmashree Gehl Sampath, African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases director, Professor Christian Happi, and acting managing director of European Investment Bank Global, Dr Markus Berndt.
Minister Al-Mashat noted that health security was “as important as food security.” Dr Kofler said it was important to learn from past mistakes and prepare for the inevitable. Professor Happi argued that research and development should be integrated into the African thinking process. Dr Berndt commended the African Development Bank for setting up the APTF and said long-term health security was key to economic growth.
President Adesina underscored the stark realities revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic in his welcome remarks. He highlighted the inequality in vaccine access and pledged that the APTF represented a collective commitment towards self-sufficiency in the pharmaceutical sector.
The five-day Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank began on Monday, 22 May 2023, under the theme “Mobilizing Private Sector Financing for Climate and Green Growth in Africa.” The event brings together delegations from 81 member countries.