, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7- Kenya is set to host a major international conference on drugs and diagnostics next week.
Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo said on Thursday that African Ministers in charge of health, Science and Technology and representatives from United Nations agencies would meet at the African Conference on Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) to discuss medical research.
The Minister said lack of knowledge about research done in other African countries and absence of financing incentives was the greatest barrier to research in Africa.
“So far funds have been secured partly from the European Union and the World Health Organisation. Further funding is being solicited for the initial establishment of ANDI,” she said.
“The realisation of this will entail the formal establishment of a governance structure, the selection of host sites for the regional and sub regional offices, selection and establishment of an initial set of projects and technological support platforms and recruitment of staff,” Mrs Mugo added.
She said the ANDI meeting would also provide Kenya an opportunity to lobby to host its headquarters, which were temporarily based in Ethiopia. She argued that Kenya had strong health research institutions and was among the leading African countries in pharmaceutical production.
Statistics indicate that 80 percent of Africa’s pharmaceutical production was based in Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa of which Kenya was the only country that exported more than 45 percent of her production to neighboring countries.
“If Kenya wins the bid, it will stand to gain a lot in many aspects including an anticipated funding worth Sh48.9billion, augmenting Nairobi’s prominence as a regional hub for trade and finance,” she said.
The Minister said that other advantages would be development of requisite social technologies that were pertinent for industrialisation, enhanced foreign exchange reserves and employment opportunities that would attract and retain specialised skilled labor and attraction of direct foreign investment that fuel economic growth and industrialisation.
A representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Thomas Essombe said the initiative was a tangible response to help generate new innovative health solutions within Africa for Africans.
“We in WHO believe that ANDI is a truly Pan African network encompassing the North and Sub Saharan region of the continent,” he said.
The first such meeting was held in Nigeria in 2008, followed by South Africa in 2009.