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Cheaper drugs, vaccines forecast as collaborations grow between developing countries' biotech firms
Date:5/10/2010

Still, third party organisations can be important for south-south collaborations. The World Health Organisation, for instance, was crucial for the success of the Brazil-Cuba collaboration in providing meningitis vaccine for Africa, and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World has been instrumental in building capacity through south-south collaboration in poorer African countries.

In many ways such collaborations are a more relevant model of promoting innovation than the traditional model of relying on linkages with developed countries.

Says Dr. Wen Ke, a co-author from the Chinese Academy of Sciences: "Even large countries such as China need at times to look beyond their borders to access the necessary expertise."

South-south collaborations strengthen the capability of firms in southern countries to meet shared problems by pooling their expertise and resources -- to address issues rich countries in the north may not be affected by, nor interested in," says Dr. Victor Konde from the University of Zambia.

Earlier research shows Africa bears a quarter of the world's disease burden, yet accounts for less than one per cent of global expenditure on health. Sub-Saharan Africa imports nearly 90 per cent of its medicines. However this could rapidly change with 37 countries on the continent now engaged in some form of medicine production.

Collaborations have enabled Egypt and Tunisia to meet the majority [60-95 per cent] of their own drug needs now.

"This locally-appropriate technology transfer between developing countries can bridge the divide between the health biotech haves and have nots," says Dr. Magdy Madkour at the Ain Shams University in Cairo. "When Egypt faced a shortage of insulin imported from developed countries, only China's door was open to overcome the insulin deficiency crisis."

Firms in developing countries are far from reaping the full benefits of south-south collaboration but canno
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Contact: Terry Collins
terrycollins@rogers.com
416-538-8712
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Source:Eurekalert

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