THE Strive Masiyiwa-led Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) is gaining more international support following its official launch last month towards sourcing of Covid-19 medical supplies and equipment in the continent.
The AMSP is a non-profit online initiative launched by the African Union (AU) as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the Covid-19 pandemic. AU Chairman and South Africa President, Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, official launched the initiative last month, which has struck new groundbreaking partnerships globally, and has experienced a surge in demand for medical supplies from member states of the African Union.
President Ramaphosa has since directed the platform team to also begin to add promising pharmaceutical products that might be helpful to doctors, working in close collaboration with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Updating President Ramaphosa on the progress the platform has made thus far Mr Masiyiwa, who is AU Covid-19 Special Envoy, highlighted key developments the platform has made in the past three weeks.
“I’m 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,” said Mr Masiyiwa, in a latest update shared with the media.
“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 9M 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 was quoted as saying: “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 lifesaving tools should not be dependent on ability to pay.”
The Africa CDC has further secured US$15 million from the MasterCard Foundation, which has been used to buy PCR Test Kits through the platform.
“These tests will support our Partnership to Accelerate the Covid-19 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 are set to 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.
He told President Ramaphosa 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,” he said.
Mr Masiyiwa said demand for medical supplies on the platform was high and included member states of the African Union, leading international Non-Governmental Organizations 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 advised the AU Chairperson that under his leadership, the platform had achieved international recognition, with member states of CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) recently joining the platform to access critical medical supplies to fight Covid-19.