China’s renowned pharmaceutical company, Fosun Pharma, is set to spearhead a seminar in Kenya on Malaria treatment with a focus on its second-generation Artesunate for injection.
The forum, to be held this week in the lake city of Kisumu, Western Kenya, comes at a time when China and its development partners commemorate 10 years of the Belt and Road Initiative, a mechanism credited for the strategic and beneficial partnership between the World’s second-largest power and countries, especially in the Global South.
Just like in other major sectors, Beijing is keen to utilize the Belt and Road Initiative to strengthen cooperation in healthcare. It is in line with this that Fosun Pharma has actively participated in the Chinese government’s program on assistance to Africa in Fighting diseases such as Malaria. The firm has also participated in various public welfare activities and international research projects aiming to help improve malaria control capacity in Africa.
“Fosun Pharma has been a core supplier of antimalarial drugs to the Global Fund, UNICEF, WHO, and national drug procurement centers in Africa,” the company noted in a statement ahead of the Seminar in Kisumu.
The latest malaria medication is significant especially given that treatments containing artemisinin bringing together China’s scientific research strength have made significant contributions to global malaria prevention and control. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, every year about 240 million people have benefited from artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).
In June 2023, Fosun Pharma’s self-innovated second-generation artesunate for injection Argesun® was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) Prequalification, becoming the first artesunate injectable presented with a single solvent system WHO prequalified and has already been registered in 17 countries.
“Artesun® (artesunate for injection) independently developed by Fosun Pharma has been the first-line treatment of severe malaria recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2011,” said the company
“It has become a well-known Chinese innovative drug in Africa and the world. By the end of 2022, Artesun® had helped save more than 56 million patients with severe malaria worldwide, most of whom were African children under five years old,” the firm added
In 2020, the Chinese pharmaceutical company donated anti-malaria drugs to Kenya’s health ministry to boost the war against the tropical disease that is the leading cause of death among pregnant women and children.
The donation consisted of 400,000 vials of the injectable drug valued at $670,000. The donation arrived at a time when the government confirmed that Kenya’s public hospitals in 2019 treated 250,000 cases of severe malaria with artesunate, and 75 percent were children below 15 years.
In response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call to help cultivate African talents, Fosun Pharma has also set up a scholarship together with the Fosun Foundation to train local medical talents for Africa and bring benefits to local communities.
“In the future, the two parties will collaborate with top universities in various African countries including Kenya and Ivory Coast to cultivate local practitioners in primary medical care as well as medicine and health,” the Chinese company said
Students sponsored by the program will have an opportunity to visit China for an internship.
“The program aims to achieve the ultimate goal of upgrading from “Use in Africa” to “Made in Africa & Use in Africa”,” the company, also a shareholder in Sinopharm, indicated.
The world’s popular malaria medicine Artemisinin was discovered by a Chinese national Tu Youyou and her team. From the discovery of artemisinin to the innovation of artesunate, and the worldwide clinical application of artemisinin-based malaria treatment, Fosun Pharma, has taken over from Tu Youyou’s team and led the international deployment of artemisinin-based innovative drugs.
After more than 15 years of operations in Africa, Fosun Pharma has established a sales and marketing network in 39 countries and regions in Africa, ensuring the continued availability of medicines and healthcare products in Africa, including antimalarial drugs. Most notable is the Côte d’Ivoire distribution center in West Africa which was officially opened in 2021.