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AU sets up online pharmacy for Covid-19 medical supplies

The African Union has set up an online pharmacy to enable member states to access critical medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to African Union chairman Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday.The South African president said this when he launched the Africa Medical Supplies Platform in a virtual media briefing in Pretoria.

The AU’s only pharmacy is a non-profit initiative designed to serve as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ramaphosa said.

He added that AU member states would be able to source the medical supplies directly from manufacturers in both the necessary quantities and at competitive prices. 

“Once a vaccine is available it, too, will be added to this portal in line with our stated commitment to ensuring there is equitable access to any form of lifesaving medication,” he said. 

He revealed that resources “will be secured by governments on a quota basis determined by, among other things, vulnerability level. The benefits of resource pooling in such a manner are innumerable.”

Ramaphosa said countries would have ready access to an online marketplace at the click of a button, as opposed to “the onerous and time-consuming process of scouring the globe to procure these medical supplies.” 

“Think of it as the Amazon, the Alibaba or even the eBay of coronavirus resources on the African continent — made in Africa by Africans — the fundamental difference being that on this platform, the buyer is not individuals but governments,” he said. 

The Africa Medical Supplies Platform was developed in partnership with African Export-Import Bank on behalf of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the AU chair said. 

Afreximbank will facilitate payments, while logistics partners, including African national carriers and global freight forwarders, will expedite delivery, he added.

Published on 28.04.2020

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