Purdue University

BIRS’ Community-Driven Approach to Developing Trusted Medicines in East Africa

Health care quality

BIRS will develop trusted pharmaceuticals in East Africa while simultaneously expanding upon a successful, dynamic educational system to catalyze long-term, self-sustaining pharmaceutical networks.

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Patients in Africa often suffer needlessly due to counterfeit or limited access to pharmaceuticals. One example is post-partum hemorrhaging, which can be greatly reduced by Oxytocin, but it is rarely available. In Tanzania, the maternal death rate is 578 per 100,000 compared to 23 in the United States. BIRS (Purdue, Merck, Medical Missionaries of Mary) is dedicated to empowering African countries to independently regulate, manufacture and disseminate pharmaceuticals. Within five years, BIRS will integrate a comprehensive program in Tanzania and Uganda comprised of (1) Higher Education - graduating 45 PhDs, 400 Master’s, 1,000 Certificate students in Regulatory and Quality Compliance; (2) Flexible Manufacturing - Increase safety of 1.6 million births annually by initially manufacturing Oxytocin; expanding to antibiotics; and (3) Counterfeit Analysis – providing pharmaceutical lab analyses to remove substandard medicines, vaccines. Strengthening a country’s healthcare system will strengthen its economy. Saving a mother’s life can save a family’s future.

Problem Statement

Citizens of Tanzania, Uganda, and bordering countries do not have reliable access to medicines that can be trusted. This problem exists because many African governments do not have access to the higher education, experience or resources necessary to implement an autonomous pharmaceutical infrastructure. Uganda and Tanzania primarily rely upon corporate charitable donations for supplies with no ability to self-regulate against counterfeit medicines or create their own.BIRS will influence change by focusing upon three key areas of impact: (1) Higher Education – this builds internal capacity, ensuring African countries can ultimately become self-sustaining and self-reliant; (2) Flexible Manufacturing – this will: (a) provide current graduate students with vital hands-on experience under safe, faculty supervision; (b) generate self-sustaining funds for the project; (c) address an urgent health need within the community that will save lives; (d) provide sterile, portable manufacturing units that overcome Africa’s infrastructure limitations; and (3) Counterfeit Analysis – this will reduce dangerous fakes from entering the community, while also providing valuable laboratory experience to Tanzanian and Ugandan graduate students. One small change that has a major impact is successful student recruitment. BIRS works very hard to recruit students in meaningful positions of impact – such as the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority or the Ugandan National Drug Authority. MMM has highly effective recruitment network capabilities. Through these leverage points, BIRS will save lives and strengthen communities. BIRS is building a community of African professionals passionate for improving access to quality medicine and global health outcomes.

Solution Overview

This project will have both a short-term and a long-term impact upon East Africa. Over the next five years, we will measure our progress through following anticipated outcomes:•Higher Education – BIRS will graduate 45 African Pharmaceutical PhDs, 400 Masters, and 1,000 certificates.•Pharmaceutical Manufacturing – BIRS will increase the safety of 1.6 million births per year by developing 134kg of high-quality Oxytocin annually.•Counterfeit Lab Analysis – BIRS will conduct counterfeit analysis of 20 million doses of antibiotics, 10 million doses of anti-cancer drugs, 3.2 million doses of Oxytocin and 2 million doses of epinephrine.BIRS is anticipated to catalyze a healthier region benefitting from more reliable pharmaceuticals. BIRS students are typically professionals working in regulatory, government or related pharmaceutical organizations throughout East Africa, sent by their employer to develop additional professional skills. As a result, their new skills immediately benefit their country after graduation. BIRS is already having this impact. In 2016, BIRS graduated five employees of the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) within its first cohort of students. In 2018, Tanzania became the first confirmed country in Africa to achieve a well-functioning, regulatory system for medical products, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). TFDA has made considerable improvements ensuring medicines are good quality, safe and produce intended health benefits [1]. “This is a major African milestone and we’re very proud of Tanzania’s achievement, which we hope will inspire other countries in the region,” says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

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Project Funders

  • National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology & Education 2018 - 2019
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 2018 - 2020
  • Merck Research Laboratories 2014 - 2017

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