ACGT supports initiative to boost African drugs and diagnostics research

The ACGT was recently represented at the 2nd Stakeholders Meeting of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) to discuss plans for the first African-owned and managed innovation fund to finance drugs and diagnostics research. The meeting was held at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Cape Town from 4 – 7 October 2009.

Administered through the World Health Organisation Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO-TDR), the ANDI network concept was launched in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2008. Its main goal is promoting and sustaining African-led product research and development innovation though the discovery, development and delivery of affordable new tools, including those based on traditional medicines.

The meeting was attended by close to 300 researchers and other stakeholders – including African research institutions; ministries of health and science & technology; science academies; policy makers; donor agencies; health product manufacturers; NGOs; international organisations; Africans in the diaspora and others interested in supporting R&D in Africa. As part of this contingent, the ACGT was represented by its Director, Dr Jane Morris, through her role as chairperson of the steering committee of the South African Malaria Initiative (SAMI). Also present were ACGT contributors from the University of Pretoria and the Biosciences and Materials Science & Manufacturing units of the CSIR.

The three-day event featured over 100 scientific presentations on a wide range of topics to demonstrate the level of R&D innovation and capabilities in the African continent. In addition, the ANDI Task Force – comprising of members of WHO-TDR, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the European Commission – presented its report and the proposed ANDI strategy and business plan for 2010–2015, which was subsequently approved by meeting participants.

The plan calls for a R4.4 billion endowment fund in Africa that will generate a sustainable income of up to R230 million a year to support African drug and diagnostic innovation by funding direct research and networking between scientists, contributing to building a sustainable research environment and helping translate research into products.

The ANDI Task Force is now in discussion with various international and multilateral organisations to source funding, including the ADB – which has provisionally agreed to manage the funds. Initial funders will decide where on the continent ANDI will be based, and five research hubs are planned for Central, North, East, West, and Southern Africa.

For more information on the meeting, visit the ANDI 2009 website.