Sunday Mail Reporter
AFRICAN UNION (AU) special envoy Strive Masiyiwa has managed to rope in the Bill & Melinda Foundation to supply a critical drug called dexamethasone, which is being used as a therapeutic drug in hospitals in the US and Europe.
The drug is being supplied through the recent Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) launched by the chairperson of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa, on the June 18 2020.
Updating the chairperson of the AU, Mr Strive Masiyiwa: “I am pleased to advise you that at our request, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to joining our initiative to secure a drug to treat Covid-19 called dexamethasone, which is being used in hospitals in the US, and Europe on very sick patients following the results of the recovery trial.
“The trial demonstrated significant reduction of mortality, saving lives that we couldn’t save without this intervention. About one million people will benefit from the drug [equivalent to nine million tablets], which will be distributed proportionately for free to all countries that are interested in its use.”
The Gates Foundation’s Africa director, Cheikh Oumar Seydi, noted: “The Gates Foundation gladly supports this initiative of the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to bring Covid-19 treatments to the African people. We have a shared belief that access to life-saving tools should not be dependent on ability to pay.”
In addition, the Africa CDC has further secured $15m from the MasterCard Foundation, which has been used to buy PCR Test Kits through the platform.
“These tests will support our Partnership to Accelerate Covid-19 the testing initiative that was launched a few weeks ago,” the Executive Director of the Africa CDC, Mr NKekasong, said.
The donations of both dexamethasone and test kits will be distributed for free to AU member states once they register on the AMSP platform, so as to confirm their allocation and arrange delivery.
“In addition to our efforts securing the best drugs on the platform, we are preparing to become a critical player in how oxygen supplies, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines are accessible on the continent when it is globally available,” Mr Masiyiwa explained.
AMSP global expansion in supply and demand
Mr Masiyiwa told the President Ramaphosa that he was pleased to report that the UNICEF catalogue was now listed and purchasable on the platform, while the applications from vendors of medical suppliers have increased threefold from the time of launch.
“Mr President, l am pleased to report that the platform has proved popular with suppliers and is receiving applications from an average of 40 new vendors per day.”
Mr Masiyiwa said demand for medical supplies on the platform was high and included member states of the African Union, leading international non-governmental organisations as well as International and African Foundations.
“We are also zeroing in on ensuring that we expand access of our platform to hospitals and local authorities approved by governments of member states. We believe this will ensure critical supplies are available at the hospital level in a speedy and timely fashion,” said Mr Masiyiwa.
He concluded the briefing by advising the Chairperson of the African Union that under his leadership, the platform had achieved international recognition, with member states of CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) joining the platform to access critical medical supplies to fight Covid-19.