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Fixing Africa’s drug supply chain

By | Wednesday, 31st July, 2019

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Just a quick note highlighting the work of one of this year’s Skoll Awardees for Social Entrepreneurship, mPharma, founded by Ghanaian Gregory Rockson.

Having swapped a budding career as a doctor for the business side of healthcare, Rockson co-founded mPharma in the last year of his undergraduate course, his own experiences of thoracic scoliosis persuading him that he could be much more effective tackling the problems patients have procuring medicines.

Drug supply in Africa is particularly poor, with people dying of diseases that – if treated – at best cure and at worst extend life expectancy. Of the 435,000 deaths from malaria in 2017, for example, 93% were in Africa. Malaria has a 95% confidence interval, meaning the vast majority of these deaths were avoidable, had sufferers had access to the right healthcare.

Unfortunately, drugs are in short supply, with countries or areas suffering stockouts. If available, they’re often extortionately priced, the complexity of procurement resulting in African patients paying up to three times as much as someone living in America or Europe. Lack of stock and high prices result in the mushrooming of alternative markets for drugs, and therefore in counterfeit and substandard product.

Recognising these problems, mPharma’s mission is to wrestle control of the supply chain, buying up drugs, and directly supplying Africa-based pharmacies. Partnering with the likes of Novartis, Bayer, and Pfizer, it simplifies the chain; manages networks of providers; works with clinics; and offers patients interest-free micropayment schemes.

The end result: available, affordable drugs in some of Africa’s most challenged countries.