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Building the Case for Systems of Health Innovation in Africa

Chataway, J   Chaturvedi, K   Hanlin, R   Mugwagwa, J   Smith, J   Wield, D

March 2009

in ‘Science, Technology and Innovation for Public Health in Africa’

Kalua F, Awotedu A, Kamwanja L and Saka J (eds)

New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)   www.nepadst.org

African countries face formidable challenges in public health, particularly with the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and the persistence of malaria and related killer diseases such as tuberculosis which wreck havoc with people's lives. Other challenges the African countries are experiencing include the deterioration of health infrastructures and low and declining investments in health research. For many of these countries, this state of affairs has resulted in a considerable drop in life expectancy in the last two decades. This is particularly so in the sub-Saharan Africa where the burden of disease is pervasive and most pronounced.

Broadly, the challenges confronting Africa are located in scientific and technological developments as well as related emerging institutional arrangements. As a UNDP report puts it, ‘Technology-supported advances in health, nutrition, crop yields and employment are usually not just one-time gains. They typically have a multiplier effect... raising incomes and building capacity for future innovation, all feeding back into human development.’

This message is echoed by the United Nations Millennium Project in its report entitled Innovation: Applying Knowledge in Development.

However, Africa now has opportunities to address these challenges. More than ever before, the continent is better placed to combat malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, as well as eradicating extreme hunger, stemming environmental degradation, improving water quality and sanitation, and advancing other aspects of human development.

Topics explored in this report include:

  • The Healthcare Challenge
  • Technological Trends and Innovation Systems in Public Health delivery in Africa
  • Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation and Public Health
  • Agriculture and Health
  • E-Health
  • Intellectual Property Rights to Improve Public Health
  • Funding for Health R&D and Health Innovation in Africa

Full report (PDF, 4.4MB) www.nepadst.org/doclibrary/pdfs/stipha_mar2009.pdf