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Studies detail triumphs, troubles of African innovators creating products for local health needs
Date:12/12/2010

The public sector drives Tanzania's science and technology innovation agenda through a myriad of institutions and organizations dedicated to various aspects of health and other sciences.

It has some of the leading health research on the continent, with strong donor support, such as the University of Dar es Salaam, Muhimbili University of Health and Applied Sciences and the Ifakara Medical Institute. All are involved with international projects on infectious disease, though none with substantial technological spin-offs.

Perhaps more than the other countries studied, Tanzania politically socialist until recently has found developing an entrepreneurial culture difficult.

Nevertheless, one private generics company has developed a South-South collaboration to enable technology transfer and local production of anti-retrovirals. And a long-established textile company, A to Z Textiles described earlier, manufactures 25 million bed nets a year a fascinating example of local innovation.

To achieve greater innovation in general and for health in particular, the authors urge the government to coordinate different stakeholders involved with health research, increase graduates in health-related disciplines, and build technological capabilities in such areas as biological testing, preclinical testing, formulation and standardization the absence of which hinders the transition from basic research to product development.

Other recommended reforms: Encourage the private sector to move towards innovation through improved access to financing, and incentives for R&D. And a mechanism to bring the public and private sector together around specific projects could help unblock some of the country's innovative potential.

At a December, 2007 national life sciences workshop in Dar es Salaam, co-hosted by the McLaughlin Rotman Center, local stakeholders including government, private sector, and research community represen
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Contact: Terry Collins
tc@tca.tc
416-538-8712
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert  

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