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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Studies detail triumphs, troubles of African innovators creating products for local health needs

From a December 12, 2010 Eureka news item

Africans strengthen ability to meet health needs in sub-Sahara with homegrown science solutions, but many products stagnate in labs for want of commercialization know-how, support
IMAGE: Invented by Moses Musaazi of Makerere University, Uganda, this easy‑to‑use, inexpensive, WHO‑approved portable medical‑waste incinerator could help solve the problem of hospital waste management in rural areas, especially during mass… 

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Global health experts today published a landmark collection of papers that together provide a unique microscope on the experience of countries, companies and organizations in sub-Saharan Africa addressing neglected health problems with homegrown drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other creative scientific and business solutions.

The first-of-its kind study chronicles the triumphs and troubles of entrepreneurs, institutes and firms in Africa creating innovative, affordable technologies that bring hope to many sufferers of local diseases. While some have yet to succeed, several organizations cleared major hurdles to finance and create products, some of which may expand into global markets one day.

It is the first research offering a broad range of evidence and concrete examples of African innovation to address local health concerns. The papers draw on the experiences of authorities, researchers and entrepreneurs in Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. In addition to efforts involving health products, the experiences of health venture capital funds in African and other developed countries are profiled.

The papers were produced by Canada’s McLaughlin-Rotman Center for Global Health (MRC), at the University Health Network and University of Toronto, and published as a special supplement in the UK-based open-access journal publisher BioMed Central Dec. 12 (with full public access atwww.biomedcentral.com/bmcinthealthhumrights/10?issue=S1). One of the papers was published earlier in the journal Science….

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Since it began in 2004, the MRC has focused extensively on how low-income countries themselves can remedy diseases of poverty. With relatively little profit incentive, firms in rich, developed countries largely neglect such diseases. The MRC has documented the benefits of the homegrown science approach to health problems, which include, beyond affordable products, less dependency on international donor programs and much-needed new economic opportunities and job creation. This collection represents the MRC’s largest contribution to date on product commercialization for improving health in Africa.

IMAGE: Nibima is a new herbal malaria medicine developed in Ghana. Of the 25 “stagnant ” technologies discovered, 16 involved traditional plant products; the rest were new drug molecules, diagnostics, vaccines and… 

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Examples of African innovation:

 

     

  • In Tanzania, local funding, economies of scale, technology transfer, and partnerships all helped the A to Z Textile Company become one of the world’s largest producers of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets, cost-effectively producing tens of millions of nets in an area where malaria is a critical problem. The company succeeded despite regulatory issues, procurement rules, and other barriers. 
  • In Madagascar, The Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) has created Madeglucyl, a treatment for diabetes management based on a traditional remedy; 
  • In Nigeria, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development has a plant-based drug for sickle-cell anemia – one of the few low-toxicity drugs available anywhere to treat the debilitating chronic blood disorder – but has yet to overcome barriers to its commercialization;………

December 15, 2010 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Health News Items, Librarian Resources | , , | Leave a comment

   

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