14.01.2011 Kenya

Kenya and South Africa elected co-Chairs at inaugural Board meetingof African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI)

14.01.2011 LISTEN
By Kim Polley

· Critical need to integrate public health research and policy with science and technology recognised in innovative governance structure

· ANDI Board constituted and strategic plan approved

Addis Ababa, 14.01.10: The Minister for Public Health and Sanitation in Kenya, Mrs. Beth Mugo, and the Minister for Science and Technology in South Africa, Mrs. Naledi Pandor, were jointly elected co-Chairs of the Board of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), at the inaugural meeting, hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 11-12 January 2011.

The innovative co-Chair governance structure was created in recognition of the critical need to integrate public health research and policy with science and technology in order to develop a holistic approach to sustainably address Africa's health challenges through the discovery, development and delivery of drug, diagnostics, vaccines and other health products within Africa. Board members representing North, South, East, West and Central African regions, leading health experts, the African Diaspora and key institutional partners - UNECA (legal hosts for ANDI), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the African Development Bank (AfDB) discussed the strategic plans for ANDI. The European Commission have also provided support for the establishment of ANDI.

Speaking at the opening of the Board meeting, Ms Jennifer Kargbo, the Deputy Executive Secretary of UNECA, stressed the importance of the private sector participation in ANDI activities, especially in translating R&D outputs into useful products and services that benefit the people. She emphasized that “ANDI's success should be measured in terms of numbers of lives saved, jobs created and firms created.” She was delighted that the Board had committed the political leadership and eminent experts needed in developing this pan-African health innovation network.

The value of establishing synergy between ANDI's agenda and those of the African Union (AU), NEPAD, regional economic communities (RECs) and interfacing with fora such as AMCOST (African Ministerial Conference on Science and Technology) was acknowledged in order to ensure the sustainability of its work in Africa.

In her inaugural address to the Board, ANDI co-Chair Hon. Beth Mugo noted Kenya's commitment to supporting ANDI in promoting and sustaining African-led health product innovation to address African health needs through the assembly of research networks and the building of capacity. Recalling Kenya's joint sponsorship with Brazil of the World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolution on the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property, Hon. Mugo noted, “We consider ANDI as one of the most important initiatives in Africa in the implementation of the Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property”.

ANDI co-Chair Hon. Pandor remarked, “It is very exciting that in the past 5 years, African Ministers of Health and of Science and Technology have recognised that as Africa we're going to have to invest in providing solutions to our problems and challenges. I regard ANDI as a very important part of our continental response to Africa's challenges.”

She continued: “I believe it's absolutely vital that through our own R&D, using our own intellectual resources, our institutions and by working successfully in partnership with Africans throughout the continent and in the Diaspora, we change the face of our continent and reduce the burden of disease.”

Dr. Maged Al-Sherbiny, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Egypt, and representatives from the Nigerian Ministry of Health reiterated their support for the establishment of the network's regional hubs. ANDI Vice-Chair Dr. Tshinko Ilunga called on the Board to act as ambassadors for ANDI and paid tribute to the high level political leadership and cross-sector support demonstrated for the initiative to date.

“We are very pleased with the strong support, commitment and leadership of the Board as well as the significant achievements of this 1st Board meeting”, said Dr Solomon Nwaka, who presently leads the ANDI Secretariat, which is now being transitioned from TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, to UNECA.

The meeting closed with the adoption of the 2011 work plan, the approval of the budget, the announcement of the second ANDI Board meeting to be held back to back with the 4th ANDI stakeholder conference, and a donor conference in Egypt in the 4Q 2011. The Board also approved the membership of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), which will support the technical implementation of ANDI activities.