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COVID-19: Novartis Partners AU On Medical Supplies to Africa

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) -A global pharmaceutical company, Novartis and the African Union (AU) through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) have announced a new collaboration to facilitate the supply of medicines from the Novartis Pandemic Response Portfolio to the AU member states and Caricom countries.

The collaboration aims to help alleviate supply and logistical constraints in the AU member states by ensuring efficient and rapid access to the Pandemic Portfolio medicines to African and Caricom governments.

The AU comprises 55 Member States, representing all the countries on the African continent, while 15 Caricom countries are eligible for the Pandemic Portfolio.

Portfolio of 15 generic and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines from Sandoz division will be sold at zero-profit to governments through AMSP to 55 African and 15 Caricom eligible countries.

Meanwhile, the AU through the AMSP has integrated vetted medical suppliers to ensure rapid access to affordable COVID-19 related supplies.

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread worldwide, there was a shortage of diagnostics, medical supplies and essential medical equipment such as personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, face masks, ventilators, and many others.

Many African governments had severe challenges with the procurement of essential supplies to support their response activities and face stiff competition with the more industrialized countries for the limited available supplies.

The AMSP portal is an online marketplace that enables the supply of COVID-19-related critical medical equipment in Africa. It was developed under the leadership of the AU Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and powered by Janngo, on behalf of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

The platform was also developed in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Novartis, Vas Narasimhan said the collaboration with AU is a continuation of their company’s efforts aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our collaboration with AMSP is a continuation of our efforts at Novartis to combat COVID-19 across the world”, he said.

AMSP was developed to ease the difficulties and open up the medical supplies market to Africa, and as part of the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) of Africa CDC.

It also integrates African and globally vetted medical suppliers to ensure cost-effectiveness and transparency in the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 related supplies.

The AU Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa noted that as a global pharmaceutical leader, Novartis is a strategic partner for AMSP to unlock access to the latest and best-performing medicines for Africans in an affordable way.

“Following the successful listing of test kits, personal protective equipment, and clinical management devices, the AU Chairperson has expanded our mandate to include groundbreaking medicines to treat COVID-19 patients in Africa”, Masiyiwa added.

Also in his remarks, Director of Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong said their organization is currently working with  a number of partners with a view to increasing access to medical supplies in Africa.

 “As a continental body, we are working with several partners to ensure smooth and predictable access to essential medical supplies. “We found that during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, many people died because of Ebola but not due to Ebola.

“This is because they did not have access to essential medicines needed for treatment. With AMSP, countries don’t have to search the market for supplies. The prices are negotiated and fixed to unlock the supply space”, he further explained.

The Novartis Pandemic Response Portfolio was launched in July 2020 and sells medicines at zero-profit to governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other institutional customers in up to 79 eligible countries.

The cardinal objective of the Portfolio is to address the urgent unmet needs of low-and lower-middle-income countries for medicines to be used for symptomatic treatment at various stages of COVID-19.


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