Bringing affordable high-quality medicines to sub-Saharan Africa
Universal Corporation Ltd (UCL), a pharmaceutical manufacturing company based in Kikuyu Township on Nairobi, Kenya's outskirts, has joined the Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to provide an additional 6 million doses of first-line treatment for childhood diarrhea each year by 2019. At the same time, the company has pledged to introduce two new low-cost medicines to combat malaria child mortality into the sub-Saharan African market.
While the high prevalence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS in Africa has gained significant media attention in recent years, easily treatable ailments such as malaria and diarrheal diseases affect many more people and claim a significantly higher number of lives especially those of children. Although these diseases have been all but eradicated in richer countries, they claim millions of young lives because their treatments are not affordable. Compounding the problem, medicines produced for low-income markets are often of poor quality or do not contain a sufficient amount of the active ingredient. As a result, easily treatable diseases are taking an enormous toll throughout sub-Saharan Africa both in terms of mortality and lost productivity.
UCL is tackling this serious problem by supplying life-saving medicines for distribution by international organizations such as UNICEF, USAID and NGOs throughout Kenya and other African countries. Its Kikuyu-based plant, where it employs 450 Kenyans and produces approximately 1 billion tablets each year, has been quality certified by both Kenyan authorities and the World Health Organization.
By establishing its manufacturing plant in a township outside the capital, Nairobi, and providing comprehensive training to its employees, the company is incorporating local people into the production and distribution of its life-saving medicines. By 2019, UCL plans to hire and train 40 additional staff to accompany its further scale up of production capacity for medicines including Sulphadoxine+Pyrimethamine and Amodiaquine to combat malaria, and oral rehydration salts to reduce childhood mortality from diarrheal diseases.
The company's inclusive business model is based on the economies of scale derived from manufacturing a high volume of quality medicine in order to reduce production costs. This will enable the company to increase its market share and secure the returns needed to scale up the introduction of new medicines in an area of high demand and limited resources.
As a result of its initiative, the company expects to impact between 60,000 to 80,000 people each year decreasing mortality and providing much-needed jobs for Kenyans. By improving children's health and enhancing livelihoods, UCL's inclusive initiative will not only enrich the Kenyan economy. The company's expanding market reach will stimulate the development of distribution enterprises in other sub-Saharan African countries to deliver these critical treatments.