Africa’s capacity for pharmaceutical research and design (R&D) and local drug production is amongst the lowest in the world. The problem of inadequate investments in this area, unfortunately, continues. Overall, 37 African countries have some pharmaceutical production, although only South Africa produces some active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Where there is local production in Africa, normally there is a reliance on imported active ingredients. As a result, the supply of African pharmaceuticals remains highly dependent on foreign funding and imports. The pharmaceutical market in Africa is now 70% imported. According to trade data, India alone accounted for 17.7% of African pharmaceutical imports in 2011. Estimates further suggest that more than 80% of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) across the continent are imported./p>
The poor access and affordability of medicines is compounded by factors that include long lead times for international orders; infrastructure gaps such as poor logistics and storage capacity, as well as high transport and distribution costs. In addition, there have been scarce public finances and deficient public health procurement systems. It is estimated that there is scarcity of essential medicines both in the public and private sector. People are also often being forced to buy medicines that may not be certified.