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

>The fundamentals for a science-based health innovation system in Ghana already exist, according to the study: research organizations, regulatory bodies, health delivery systems and a well-established pharmaceutical industry, for example.

And Ghana can boast of examples of knowledge translation by public institutions that have made a major impact on local diseases such as river blindness.

However, links within the public sector are poor, as is knowledge sharing between the public and private sectors.

Low-tech technology transfer from research groups into local communities has occurred for decades, but these initiatives rarely if ever involve the private sector. As such, they are not scaled up, and have had limited economic effect.

Some small, entrepreneurial firms, largely focused on producing essential medicines such as affordable anti-retrovirals, appear to be shaping the science-based health innovation landscape most strongly.

The firms address undersupplied markets, tackling new parts of the value chain, or creating easy-to-use formulations. Plant medicine also plays a vital part in the health sector in Ghana, and increasing attention and resources are being directed towards the standardization and ultimately the scientific testing of the efficacy of these medicines.

Producing pediatric, one-dose formulations of generic drugs, as the company DanAdams has done, is an important step in building capacity and reaching new customers. In general, these pharmaceutical firms are accessing foreign knowledge through licensing, technology transfer or tacit knowledge acquired overseas and adapting it locally.

Among recommendations: Ghana should increase science and technology funding to the 1% of GDP suggested by the African Union; improve morale and remain linked to the international science community; create, publicize and implement a plan which coordinates across government and sets realistic targets
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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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