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The AERAP Africa-Europe Science Collaboration Platform will organise a roundtable discussion on 8-9 December 2021 to consider the contribution of science to the priorities for the EU-Africa summit, currently scheduled for 17-18 February 2022 under the French Council Presidency of the European Union (1 January -30 June 2022). The purpose of the meeting will be to promote awareness of the contribution of collaborative research and development as a critical aspect of EU-Africa relations and collaborations while recognising the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which provides a critical narrative.

The general topics that will inform the discussions include:
  1. The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, NDICI, also known as Global Europe, needs to reflect the enormous potential of collaborative and inclusive science to address the policy objectives addressed by the instrument, including digital transition and the Green deal; the Communication from the Commission on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation is a key paper: the Communication is intended to ....serve as a guide in implementing the international dimension of the new EU programme for civil research and innovation, Horizon Europe, and its synergies with other EU programmes, in particular the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe.  For example, the Communication does not address the impact of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has extraterritorial application and its implications for research collaboration, particularly in medical science and health research.
  2. Accelerate an inclusive approach to collaborative research, recognising Africa leadership and the untapped potential of women and girls to contribute to science and innovation. This needs to start with a more cohesive approach to policymaking and regulation. 
  3. Consider how to leveraged synergies between funding mechanisms led by the EU and development finance provided by the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and others;
  4. Raise awareness of the unforeseen and unintended impact of EU regulations on potential research collaborations. These include data privacy, the General Data Protection Regulation, the In-vitro Diagnostics Regulation (IVDR), the Medical Devices Regulation (MDR) and the Clinical Trials Regulation. Good regulation cannot act as a barrier between you and African researchers. African nations need to build their enabling regulatory environment and pursue regulatory compliance with the EU. There is also an urgent need to create an enabling environment for trust relationships;
  5. Indigenous knowledge needs to be recognised as a force for good and part equation when promoting Africa-Europe science collaboration, including developing relevant information services and linking indigenous knowledge to data capacities; patent data and WTO TRIPS Art. 66.2 is key also;
  6. We will also consider the importance of the SDGs in this context, including enabling local and community (Local 2030) science and efficacy part of the global response.
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) met in Kigali, Rwanda, on 26 October 2021, took stock of progress regarding the priority areas adopted during the last AU – EU Summit held in 2017, in Abidjan. The Communique provides some guidance on priorities for the EU-AU Summit on 17-18 Feb 2022.

AERAP is a response to the European Parliament Written Declaration 45 on Science Capacity Building in Africa. This call was repeated by the Heads of State of the African Union through their Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.407 CXVIII. AERAP encourages policymakers to understand the need for an enabling policy and regulatory environment for science cooperation with Africa and championing leadership in Africa and Europe to demonstrate science’s contribution to society and address shared global challenges.

Communication from the Commission on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation
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Wednesday, December 8 • 16:00 - 17:30
(REF GM09) Scientific Session: The plant-based platform as a part of Africa’s health revolution: challenges and opportunities”

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Production of pharmaceutically relevant proteins is scarce in developing countries such as many in Africa, leading to most of them relying on importation at increased prices, as well as long lead times to receive these vital proteins (Tsekoa et al., 2020).

The recent pandemic highlighted the shocking disparity in access to diagnostics and vaccines for Africa and the fact that Africa requires its own manufacturing capabilities cannot be ignored any longer. The question then becomes, what platforms are suited to the unique environment of the African continent. The Plant-based system has been proposed as a boon for developing countries and has just reached maturity. It is affordable, quick and easy to set up and scalable. This session discusses the vision for Africa to become self-sufficient in terms of research and diagnostic reagents, as well as therapeutic proteins and vaccine manufacturing capacity. Health requirements specific to Africa and how the plant-based system is primed to respond to these will be highlighted. The challenges and opportunities, as well as the regulatory environment, will also be discussed.
South Africa and Argentina have historically been at the forefront of developments in molecular farming for developing countries. Both countries have a high level of expertise in the area, connections with local research and veterinary centres and focus on region-specific ailments (Rybicki et al., 2013).

Transgenic plants ultimately offer the most cost-effective strategy to address the issue of global access to healthcare. This is due to the economy of scale and low technical and scientific expertise required, the medicines could be homegrown by local farmers (Paul et al., 2013).

A ‘Boon’ is defined as ‘a timely benefit: blessing’ and this definitely applies to the fit between plant molecular pharming (PMP) and developing nations such as most African countries, India and Brazil. The timing aspect is ripe-PMP has finally reached maturity as a field and many patents have lapsed in both the technology and many protein products that could be produced. This technology is a blessing due to its ease of set up and running to produce various proteins that can improve human health and life, as well as the relatively low costs to do so that make it accessible to developing countries.

Key questions are the benefits of the Plant-based platform compared to other platforms, what are the top African specific health needs to focus on and what are the hurdles to overcome in terms of implementing in Africa.

avatar for Declan Kiranne

Declan Kiranne

Chairman, Science Summit UNGA78
Declan Kirrane is the Founder and Managing Director of ISC Intelligence in Science, the chairman and managing director of the science Summit at the United Nations General assembly, and co-founder of Medicines for Future (MAF). He has over 25 years of experience as a global senior... Read More →

Maureen Dennehy

CapeBio, South Africa
Dr Maureen DennehyQuality Manager at Cape Biologix, IRCA-certified Lead Auditor, ISPE Certified Pharmaceutical Industry Professional. Maureen has around 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing. Her specialist areas are Quality Assurance, Quality Control... Read More →
avatar for Prof. Ed Rybicki

Prof. Ed Rybicki

Director, Biopharming Research Unit, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Director, Biopharming Research Unit (BRU); Professor in Microbiology, Molecular and Cell Biology Department, Faculty of Science; & Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), University of Cape Town.http://www.idm.uct.ac.za/Ed_RybickiResearch interests are in the area of vaccine biotechnology, and in developing mainly plant expression systems as platforms for the production of a wider range of proteins. Expertise includes basic virology, and vaccine and viral biotechnology.The BRU has as its mission the expres... Read More →
avatar for Kurt Zatloukal

Kurt Zatloukal

Diagnostic and Research Center for Molecular Biomedicine, Director of BBMRI.at, Medical University of Graz
Kurt Zatloukal, M.D. is a professor of pathology at the Medical University of Graz, Austria and is head of the Diagnostic and Research Center for Molecular Biomedicine. His research focuses on the molecular pathology of diseases as well as biobanking and related technologies. He coordinated... Read More →

Wednesday December 8, 2021 16:00 - 17:30 CET

Attendees (6)