CAIRO – 5 June 2022: "Egypt must be very proud of what it has achieved" on the front of mass screening citizens for hepatitis C and providing treatment free of charge to identified patients, Nobel Prize Laureate Harvey James Alter said Sunday at the first edition of Africa Health ExCon.
Alter and two other scientists, who are Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2020 for the discovery of hepatitis C virus.
Africa Health ExCon is held by the Egyptian Authority for Unified Procurement (UPA), and is attended by participants from around 100 countries.
In that context, Acting Director of Africa CDC Ahmed Ouma said he looks forward to Egypt’s help to fellow African states with hepatitis C eradication, as promised earlier by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Zimbabwe Minister of Health Constantino Chiwenga said African countries should learn from Egypt’s experience with combating many diseases. As for other areas that need a push on the continent, the minister said, "We must learn how to achieve self sufficiency in all sectors, including drugs… We need to enhance the life expectancy of Africans."
Similarly, Uganda Minister of State for Health Anifa Bangirana urged improving Africa’s ability to predict future needs, reinforcing immunity among Africans, and producing vaccines in Africa.
To localize pharmaceutical industries, including the production of vaccines, Assistant WHO Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products Mariângela Simão underlined the salience of technology transfer to Africa.
Shedding light on a relevant experience, Director General of Pharmexcil Ravi Bhaskar said India used to import medicines in the 1980s, but now, its exports of drugs amount to $50 billion.
To accomplish the localization of drug manufacturing, capacity-building and incentives are key, Bhaskar stipulated.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced during the event that Egypt would supply fellow African states with 30 million doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines.
It is noteworthy to mention that Egypt was selected early in 2022 to be one of the recipients of the mRNA technology used in the manufacturing of vaccines and other medical drugs necessary to confront many incurable diseases.
There are five other African states that were included in the selection and those are Senegal, Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia and Nigeria.