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Technological Trends and Opportunities to Combat Diseases of the Poor in Africa

Background policy paper prepared for NEPAD in advance of the AMCOST meeting and African Union summit, January 2007

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

January 2007

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)   www.nepad.org

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Scientific and technological breakthroughs do not necessarily lead to the public's access to a new product. There is no automatic, smooth transfer from laboratory to product, and then to delivery and uptake by the user. For useful innovation and product development to happen funding, regulatory, production and delivery issues need to be resolved not only by African governments but also the international community, industry and civil society.

In this paper we address three questions around this issue of transfer or rather translation, since changes needed are more systemic and more complex than simple transfer: which technologies do health experts consider have the greatest potential to address Africa's health challenges; what are perceived to be the main barriers and challenges to developing or accessing those technologies; and what can be learnt from existing initiatives which are aimed at producing, supporting or promoting the procurement and application of science and technology (S&T) advances.

To help us answer the questions we carried out a Delphi-type survey of more than 100 experts – especially focusing on prominent scientists and health policy makers in Africa and those working in global initiatives – and an extensive literature review.