We Don’t Want Africa to be the Hub of Diseases, Says Minister

  • Expert: Africa accounts for 0.2% of world patents

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said Africa should not be the hub of diseases as the continent has what it takes to improve on its health care delivery system.
The Minister stated this yesterday while playing host to the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostic Innovation (ANDI), in his office in Abuja.

Onu said that the ministry would work closely with ANDI to improve healthcare delivery in Nigeria and by exyension to Africa and beyond, stressing that the federal government has the capacity to making sure that the objectives of ANDI is realised.
“Our aspiration is not just Nigeria and Africa, we want to influence the world market in respect to drugs of diseases that cannot be cured now. We will support whatever you are doing that is in the interest of the country. We want any research we do to be of great relevance to the needs of the nation, be it pure, basic or applied research.

“ANDI is very important and very strategic to the need of Africa. We don’t want Africa to be the hub of diseases. We don’t want it, we don’t want whenever you want the face of disease, then you bring an African face, or the face of hunger, then, you bring an African face. We must work to make sure that doesn’t happen. We believe we have what it takes to achieve it,” Onu said.

Earlier, the Executive Director of ANDI, Mr. Solomon Nwaka, revealed that in spite of the diseases that are proportionally affecting Africa, the continent only accounts for 0.2 per cent of patents out of thousands coming out around the world.
This he said might be as a result of inappropriate patent regime currently in operation in the continent.

Nwaka stressed that the aim of his to the minister was to present some ideas about what ANDI could do to support the country in the area of science, technology and innovation with particular focus on diagnostic research and innovation.

Nwaka noted that the vision of the organisation was to help create a sustainable platform for health innovation in Africa, by providing technical support to countries, by mainly working through Ministries of Science and technology and Health.

“We define analysis recently around diseases that is proportionally affecting Africa and look at the number of patents that are coming out around the world, out of thousands of patent, about 0.2 per cent comes from Africa. So this is a disturbing trend that there can be some explanation, maybe the current patent regime is not appropriate for the continent. I have also heard from scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs that patenting is very expensive on the continent.” Nwaka noted.