China’s efforts to encourage its pharmaceutical firms to enter Africa and speed up the pace of technological transfer and pharmaceutical production have been welcomed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
SA relies heavily on imported ingredients for medicines while China has the largest manufacturing capacity in the world.
A recent report by Frost & Sullivan estimated that the African pharmaceutical market would grow to $40bn a year.
In Pretoria on Monday, Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong joined more than 30 health ministers from Africa and international organisations such as the AU commission, UNAIDS and the Global Fund to discuss co-operation between the states and the implementation of a China and Africa public health co-operation.
Motsoaledi said at the meeting the partnership would provide Africans with reliable and affordable medical products, vaccines and medical equipment. “The two sides may co-operate to set up medicine production parks, formulate preferential policies to encourage the joint venture co-operation between Chinese and African companies and promote the early access of the African people to more and appropriate medical products,” he said.
China’s drug industry is increasingly moving beyond raw materials towards completed drugs for export.
Motsoaledi advocated trade facilitation measures such as standards, certification and customs clearance while Liu encouraged China and SA to work together to contribute towards the improvement of global healthcare.
She said China would be providing SA with opportunities for training healthcare workers over the medium term.
China already has medical teams in Africa and conducts medical missions including cataract, cardiac and oral surgery and has supported the establishment of an African Centre for Disease Control.
UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said trade between China and Africa was critical to ensure scale production and availability of medicines and vaccines.