Health Ministers Discuss Producing Drugs in Africa

This week, the African Union (AU) is holding a Conference of Ministers of Health in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss strengthening the continent's health systems.

The goal of the conference is to come up with an integrated health strategy for Africa. Among the issues being discussed are HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, drug accessibility and drug manufacturing.

AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said that Africa would be better off producing its own drugs instead of continuing to buy them from other countries. Africa should determine the types and quantities of medicines that need to be produced and invest in building manufacturing plants. In the meantime, he called on the health ministers to stop allowing the import of drugs that have been banned in their countries of origin.

The ministers plan to draft a strategy for drug manufacturing. The conference is also being attended by United Nations officials, nongovernmental organizations and civil society organizations.