GlaxoSmithKline to invest US$216 million in Africa's healthcare sector

GSK Maxwell Hamilton FlickrPharmaceutical major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to invest US$216mn in Africa's healthcare sector, which includes the development of a lab, expansion of manufacturing facilities and training of community healthcare professionals

GSK will invest US$41mn in creating the world’s first research and development open lab for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa, which will improve the understanding of NCD variations in the continent. The possible research topics could include the apparent higher prevalence of treatment-resistant hypertension and aggressive breast cancers in young women. These insights will help prevent and formulate treatment strategies so scientists and academics can develop new medicines to address the specific needs of African patients, stated the company.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said, “Today, we are setting out further steps to tackle Africa’s dual health burden of infectious and emerging non-communicable diseases and help build crucial capacity to underpin the development of the healthcare sector in the region. We have a unique opportunity to deliver meaningful social and economic value to all of the communities we work in – using our scientific expertise and our global reach to develop innovative medicines and deliver them to people who need them around the world.”

The company said that it will also invest US$166mn to expand manufacturing capabilities in Nigeria and Kenya, and build up to five new factories in Rwanda, Ethiopia and Ghana. The new facilities will manufacture antibiotics, respiratory and HIV medicines locally. The factories will eventually transfer the technology, skills and knowledge required to manufacture complex products locally. The investments are also poised to create 500 jobs, added GSK.

In order to reduce the continent's dependence on imported medicines, steps will be taken to create regional supply hubs and local partnerships will also be established to increase the flow of GSK products and medicines to under-served rural communities, added Witty. GSK will also partner with South African-based Aspen Pharmacare to increase the registration of its medicines and vaccines. These steps will also boost efficient supply of products and reduce production costs, stated the company.

Over the next three years, GSK will partner with charities to train 10,000 community healthcare workers in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria under the UN-based initiative One Million Health Worker campaign.

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