Multimillion-rand investment to boost African health innovation

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Team CSIR announced a major investment, which seeks to strengthen Africa’s #health innovation & #biomanufacturing capabilities through a workforce training & skills dev programme, worth R80 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Picture: CSIR

STAFF REPORTER

AFRICA’s plans to build capacity to respond to future pandemics received a significant boost as South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) received an investment worth $4 458 033.00 (around R80 million) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to drive skills and health innovation.

The investment, which seeks to strengthen Africa’s biomanufacturing capability through a workforce training and skills development programme, is a significant milestone that will reduce the continent’s dependence on imported critical health products.

“Skills development and the establishment of the necessary infrastructure in the field of biomanufacturing require urgent action to strengthen our capability to manufacture health products that are accessible and cost-effective locally. This will reduce the continent’s reliance on imported therapeutics and promote the development of tailored health products for the African population.

Therefore, this workforce development programme will have a significant catalytic role in stimulating local biomanufacturing by providing hands-on training and competency building,” says Dr Santosh Ramchuran, CSIR Research Group Leader: Bioprocess Technologies.

This grant will support local training and workforce development for the manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients, biopharmaceuticals and vaccines on the African continent. The investment will also contribute to the modernisation of infrastructure and equipment that are key to building a robust local biomanufacturing capability.

“The grant from the Gates Foundation will allow for the expansion of the existing microbial production facility and the establishment of bench-scale production using mammalian cell-culture systems. This is a key focus area for us because, quite often, lead biopharmaceuticals discovered in Africa remain in the research and development phase and never reach commercial reality,” Ramchuran says.

“This work, which will support product development, is in keeping with the CSIR’s role in research translation and innovation – we provide knowledge, skills and infrastructure to drive industrial sustainability in the Biotech sector,” he added.

The initiative aims for black female candidates and applicants from other African countries to make up most of those who will benefit from the programme.

INSIDE EDUCATION

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