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Why Africa is Unable to Produce its Own Drugs

Africa’s health systems were creaking even before the covid-19 pandemic and the cause was the continent’s low capacity in the manufacturing of medicine locally, the delays in shipping drugs to the continent, and after months of waiting, the high costs especially to customers outside of urban areas. But during a plenary on Africa’s health supply chains at the US-Africa Business Summit in Morocco on July 22, health experts called on big pharma to direct their investments to Africa and manufacture on the continent. Acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Ahmed Ouma said there’s an existing body of knowledge on traditional medicine in Africa which the US and other foreign investors can tap into and set up manufacturing plants in the continent. “Come and manufacture from here. We will support you,” said Ouma. Ouma stressed how, despite Africa’s huge opportunities, its health sector is still plagued by roadblocks in getting cold chain medical equipment, the appropriateness of the equipment in terms of power and movement and lack of personnel to use that equipment. The medical equipment market in the continent is projected to hit $7 billion by 2027.