Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Nigeria's (and Africa's) Drug Problem

Yesterday Afro Leo had the privilege of joining Jeremy and Duncan Bucknell (IP Think Tank) in a podcast discussing the latest developments in the IP world. One of the questions posed by Duncan was whether Africa had the infrastructure to produce its own drugs. The answers were somewhat sceptical though Afro Leo admits that he is largely ignorant of the actual position. By co-incidence, this morning, Afro Leo was alerted to an article prefaced with the blurb" Local and international scientists, researchers, pharmacists and other stakeholders in natural and traditional health products converged on Abuja recently to showcase and give insight to their research efforts. After the meeting, it was discovered that if most of the research results are produced into drugs and commercialised, Africa will meet half of its drugs need." Afro Leo read the article penned by Roland Ogbonnaya with some enthusiasm but only to find out that the scepticism is well founded, at least in so far as Nigeria is concerned and perhaps throughout Africa.

"... little or nothing is done by African countries, including Nigeria to develop and produce their vaccines and drugs even from readily available natural products. This is  not due to lack of research results, waiting to be commercialised or as a resulted of lack of manpower and organisations to engage in this, but largely due to lack of or no political will at all on the part of governments. "

"Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, the CEO of Neimeth Nigeria Limited in his presentation, explained the seamless gulf that has existed between researchers and pharmaceutical companies. He said pharmaceutical companies have not been able to work with researchers in turning their findings to real drugs, because of lack of the huge amount of money required to take up such projects as well as a gulf in communication between the two. He said that banks need to come in with adequate funding when there is such a research result that needs to produce into commercial drug."

Afro Leo concludes that for most of Africa there seems to be little or no infrastructure available to manufacture drugs despite calls by frustrated researchers and a dire need (eg HIV and its catastrophic effect on the workforce) that he feels, governments can hardly ignore . The article does explain though that some progress has been made in Nigeria to address the problem.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

it is so sad that the Nigerian govt is not interested in the health of its citizenry. they can afford to travel to india and other countries for the own health problems. there's only little that can be done by the TRIPS agreement for us. the rest is left for the the govt to do. it's a real shame.