Health Innovation and Healthcare Delivery
The enormous cost of health care, lack of effective drugs, high costs of medicine and lack of access to affordable drugs, weak health care systems, drug resistance and slow pace of behavioral change ensures that a huge proportion of the population are faced with the reality of early deaths from potentially preventable and treatable diseases. At the same time, recent reviews have shown that most of the African countries are unlikely to meet the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Africa continues to be weighed down by a huge and growing disease burden which undermines her quest for rapid and sustainable economic development.
Our programme on health innovation is a response to the need for a holistic approach to strengthening the healthcare delivery systems in Africa. It will address the linkages between health and development by focusing on policies and institutions; strengthening human (and institutional) capabilities; the generation and application of science, technology and innovation processes. While we shall generate and collate policy-relevant research on healthcare delivery and management, the program will have special emphasis on (i) strengthening the linkages, interactions and joint learning amongst the different actors in the healthcare sector and (ii) spearheading uptake and utilization of policy research outputs by the policymakers. The following projects are envisaged under this programme:
Project 1: International Agreements and Health Technology Transfer to Developing Countries: Case studies of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative in Kenya and Tanzania
The transfer of technology to developing countries has been a topic of scholarly interest and foci of development initiatives for decades. Developed countries’ commitment to transfer technologies to developing countries is explicitly stated in the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement introduced in 1994 to provide new minimum Intellectual Property (IP) protection standards for WTO members. Article 66(2) of the TRIPS agreement states that: ‘Developed country members shall provide incentives to enterprises and institutions in their territories for the purpose of promoting and encouraging technology transfer to least-developed country members in order to enable them to create a sound a viable technological base’. Similarly article 67 provides that: ‘in order to facilitate the implementation of this agreement, developed country members shall provide on request and on mutually agreed terms and conditions, technical and financial cooperation in favour of developing and least developed countries’.
This project will interrogate the implementation/application of the provisions of article 66 (2) and 67 of the TRIPS agreement by carrying out a case studies of Vaccine clinical trials in Africa including the malaria vaccine initiative and other clinical vaccine trials. The project will cover the two East African countries where Malaria Vaccine Initiative Clinical trials have been conducted namely: Kenya and Tanzania. Wherever possible we will compare the impacts of the Malaria Vaccine Initiative with the African Malaria Network Trust (AMANET), a South-South collaboration initiative in malaria research and development.
Project 2: Ethno-veterinary medicine, Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights in Eastern Africa
Ethnoveterinary medicine refers to traditional animal healthcare practices. Poultry and small ruminants form the majority of livestock owned by the majority of rural communities. These communities occupy marginal areas where access to modern veterinary services remains a key challenge. As a result, the communities rely heavily on traditional animal healthcare practices. However, even though ethnoveterinary medicine is popular, accessible and affordable; it faces a host of challenges including lack of recognition in national policy; loss of biodiversity (ethnoveterinary medicine is heavily dependent on plants, herbs and shrubs); over-exploitation; climate change; bio-prospecting and bio-piracy as well as the loss of traditional knowledge through death of the TK holders and waning interest of the younger generation in TK and ethno-veterinary medicine.
With a strong focus on the Nagoya Protocol, (traditional knowledge; access and benefit sharing, community protocols etc), our project on ethnoveterinary medicine and intellectual property will focus on access and benefit sharing; the use of community protocols and other instruments; as well as the use of traditional knowledge and other forms of IP protection available to communities
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