Geoffrey Banda, Dinar Kale, Maureen Mackintosh, and Innogen Associate Julius Mugwagwa have authored a report from a webinar in which invited stakeholders from the African and Indian pharmaceutical sectors as well as academia reflected on the immediate experience of manufacturing for health under Covid-19 conditions on the African continent.
On 28th October 2020, this closed-door webinar brought together manufacturers in health-related industries in Africa with engaged academics in India and Africa, and with other professionals working on regulation, distribution and industrial support in African countries. The aims were to capture the immediate experience of manufacturing under Covid-19 conditions and to draw lessons for policy.
In Africa, and across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of manufacturing supply chains. It has forced a global recognition of the centrality of local manufacturing supply chains to local health security. The report summarises the key findings from this event, with the central argument being that broad-based industrial development is critical for local health security in Africa, and will be the post-Covid-19 medium-term challenge.
Four core lessons were identified:
- Broadening and deepening the African industrial base is essential to reduce the concentration risk that arises from reliance on a small number of largely external suppliers of essential items.
- This industrial deepening requires better collaborative capabilities among multiple actors across industry, academia and government.
- There is a need to strengthen and re-think the role of the public health system in stimulating local industrial development, through innovative procurement, assured markets for local manufacturers and shaping technological upgrading.
- Centres of Excellence can provide the infrastructure that is needed in African regions to support quality improvement and technological capability upgrading in emerging industrial clusters.
The report concludes by identifying areas of further research to help sustain local opportunities for innovation and build a broad manufacturing base, while supporting multi-sectoral collaborations.
“Covid-19 may actually act as a catalyst to pull together various strands of research on the integration of industrial, institutional and health policies for managing public health security risks in African countries,” says Geoff Banda, Deputy Director, Innogen, The University of Edinburgh.
The event was hosted by the ODI (Overseas Development Institute) and facilitated by the FCDO-ESRC through the Development and Economic Growth Research Programme (DEGRP).