He moved to Bangalore from Kenya in 2007 to pursue his dream of becoming a neurologist. He spent 18 months in India before returning to Kenya, where he is presently employed by the Nairobi Aga Khan University Hospital.
Given that Africa is not a developed continent, the majority of us train there. We don’t have any specialised skills or a functioning medical system, and our economy is quite weak,” he claims.
If I hadn’t chosen India, Mr. Mativo claims that he “never would have been able to earn a specialised degree.”
India wants to improve these connections with Africa. It has identified one area where trade between the continents can prosper as the healthcare industry.
Young African doctors are thus encouraged to complete their education in India, and in the meantime, Indian healthcare companies are spreading throughout Africa.
Since India is the world’s largest supplier of generic medications, the African market is a logical fit for Indian pharmaceutical companies, according to Nisht Dubey.
India-made generic medications can be purchased at a fifth of the cost of their branded counterparts, making them a common option in less developed nations.
According to Mr. Dubey, there is a significant discrepancy between the supply and demand of medications in Africa.
In 2020, Mr. Dubey founded Goodstrain Pharma in response to a dearth of medical supplies and hospital equipment in Kenya amid the Covid crisis. Kenya receives imports of drugs and healthcare supplies from all around the world.
Although Goodstrain’s headquarters and warehouse are in Nairobi, Mr. Dubey wants the company to grow throughout East Africa.
According to Mr. Dubey, who is originally from Uttar Pradesh in northern India, “Africa is the only pharmaceutical market where genuinely significant growth is still conceivable.”
However, starting a business in Kenya has not been simple. Goodstrain experienced a significant setback when their first shipment to Kenya was held up for weeks at customs.
According to Mr. Dubey, they weren’t prepared for the complex system of import rules. They now delegate that to a third party that specialises in clearing imports.
By producing medications in Africa, Africure Pharmaceuticals has gone one step farther than Goodstrain.
The business, which was just established in 2017, now operates nine manufacturing facilities in Africa, 300 of whom are employed in Cameroon, Namibia, Botswana, and Côte d’Ivoire. It also has plans to establish factories in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.
Africure’s manufacturing facilities produce a variety of antibiotics as well as drugs for malaria, diabetes, hypertension, fever, inflammation, and pain.
According to Sinhue Noronha, the founder and CEO of Africure Pharmaceuticals, “Africa over the years has been dependent on imports of medication from Europe, India, and China, which has resulted in the draining of precious foreign exchange, non-creation of job opportunities, and suffering from the vagaries of supply and demand.”
Mr. Noronha, a native of Mumbai, expects that his business will assist in addressing some of the issues in African healthcare.
“Our top priority is to find solutions to enduring problems including affordability, accessibility, poor quality, dependency on imports, and technological dependence.
The main purpose of each of our facilities and distribution systems is to provide a steady supply of vital medications.
According to Mr. Noronha, Indian businesses have an advantage over rivals from other parts of the world.
Because of our significant diaspora presence in Africa, Indian producers and importers are able to comprehend the African market.
Even with these contacts, Mr. Noronha has encountered difficulties starting a firm in Africa.
“Political instability is the main obstacle. I might be granted permission today to open a factory, and the next day the government or the health minister might step down. One must always be prepared for the unexpected, he advises.
He adds that care should be given to personal safety.
Security is yet another important issue. In Africa, murder and kidnapping are frequent crimes. We Indians need to exercise extreme caution, he warns.
In general, Indian healthcare companies enjoy a positive reputation in Africa, although this reputation has recently taken considerable hits.
Four kinds of imported Indian cough syrup have been linked to the deaths of 66 children, and police in The Gambia are looking into this.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert on the cough syrups in October, cautioning that they may be connected to the children’s deaths in July, August, and September as well as acute kidney damage.
The director general of Pharmexcil, which encourages the export of Indian pharmaceuticals, Udaya Bhaskar, thinks that the Gambia episode is an anomaly and that we should be upset about it.
“Our exports and the reputation of Indian pharma would undoubtedly suffer as a result of this tragedy,” he asserts.
However, he believes the harm to his reputation will be temporary.
Since India manufactures very high-quality medicines and Africa is heavily dependent on other nations, the impact of the Gambia will be temporary.
Dr. Mativo claims that the issue in Nairobi is the absence of testing facilities in Africa.
“The tragedy in Gambia is tragic. The largest issue is that we lack the resources and infrastructure necessary to monitor the quality of the medicine that is provided to us.
He would like to see more locally made goods.
“In Africa, the majority of the population cannot afford branded medications. We need to teach people and establish production facilities there.”