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Reference Materials

Making Medicines in Africa: The Political Economy of Industrializing for Local Health

This book (open-access and free-to-download) links concerns over the access to and distribution of medicines with arguments for investment and industrial development to reflect on how industrial development and improvement in pharmaceuticals in Sub-Saharan Africa can benefit those who need access to medicines and health care. The key argument is that industrial development in pharmaceuticals and the capabilities generated by this are necessary, though not sufficient, to address the serious health care needs of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Although the pharmaceutical industry has a long history in some African countries and is deeply embedded there, a clear challenge relates to sustaining industrialization around pharmaceuticals given the constraints of the global market. Initially, the book therefore explores the sources of the organisational, institutional, technical and human capabilities that support the making of good products and enables firms to compete profitably in globalised markets.

Another challenge is to ensure that the skills and competence manufacturers and distributors build up through processes of pharmaceutical industrial development translate into better health care access for African populations. This issue is addressed by covering country experiences of interactions between industry and the broader health system.

Finally, the book illuminates key policy questions, including price controls, standards for pharmaceutical products, the possibilities around procurement processes that reflect health system values while incentivising industrial development, and the role of manufacturers’ associations and political lobbying.

One strand of thought in the book is about how to develop “local paths” to ensure that improvements in the production and supply of pharmaceuticals generate local health improvement. However, the book also talks to how international donors and policy makers can support the long-term development of local industrial and health system capabilities in African countries.

The book can be downloaded here: