Calls For Local Pharma To Produce More Arvs In South Africa For Jobs, Health Security

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calls for local pharma to produce more arvs in south africa for jobs health security

By Oceans Marasha

A health advocacy body has called for local pharmaceuticals to produce a bigger share of the countrys antiretroviral (ARV) drugs programme to fight not only HIV/Aids, but also to create an economic boom in the sector.

MMH & Partners Africa, a company that assists in the facilitation and establishment of new public health order for Africa with equitable access to healthcare products, says local producers of ARVs were only supplying 51% of the government tendered drugs, while the remaining 49% was with Indian manufacturers abroad.

For health security, the group said it would be more beneficial if a larger share of the drugs was produced locally.

The group has argued that local pharma has shown they have the skills to produce more than just 51%, while also arguing that increasing local production would benefit a number of industries in the supply chain.

Michael Mynhardt, the co-founder and chief executive at MMH & Partners Africa, says the Covid-19 pandemic and the rollout of the vaccines has shone the spotlight on the need to ensure access to pharmaceuticals and other critical goods.

Unless aided by international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other NGOs, African countries would have had to wait even longer than was already the case, just to receive a vaccine for a disease affecting every single human on the planet, implicitly suggesting that some peoples lives matter more than others.

He said as the issue of Covid-19 fades, the HIV/AIDS epidemic remains a challenge for South Africanss.

He said the government tender for the supply of ARVs allocated a significant portion of the production capacity for ARVs to local manufacturers.

This, he said, demonstrated a commitment to enhancing domestic capabilities and addressing the healthcare needs of the South African population.

From a self-sufficiency perspective, greater domestic production means greater security in terms of access to ARVs; from a long-term perspective, greater domestic production also ensures we can keep up the momentum in the fight against HIV, he said.

By entrusting 51% of the production capacity to local producers and 49% to Indian manufacturers, the government acknowledged the importance of fostering a resilient and self-reliant pharmaceutical industry to combat the HIV epidemic effectively.

From an economic perspective, whether it is produced locally or abroad, producers are remunerated but if produced locally, jobs are created, ARV production grows, and adjacent, upstream, and downstream industries benefit.

The local creation and provision of active ingredients of ARVs, for example, similarly benefits South Africas access to ARVs over the long term, argued Mynardt.

He said the benefits of producing ARVs locally was that they could also be distributed to other African countries as well.

This would ultimately contribute to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (Africa CDC) vision to build a new public health order for the continent, by improving equitable access to medicine on the continent, he said.