ASEAN-NDI SBP, catalyst for collaborative innovation in health R & D

Stakeholders of the ASEAN – Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines, and Traditional Medicine Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) convened last June 5 at the Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City, Philippines, to discuss the network’s Strategic Business Plan (SBP), learn from the best practices/experience of other regional R&D innovation networks in China and Africa, and lay down plans for ASEAN-NDI, including the proposed activities and funding opportunities for the network.

Presenting the ASEAN-NDI SBP, Dr. Federico Macaranas, Core Faculty of the Washington SyCip Graduate School of Business, AIM, and SBP lead developer discussed that the ASEAN-NDI initiative seeks to address the unmet public health needs of ASEAN and to give way to ASEAN-led health products and innovation to improve health outcomes in the region and support sustainable regional economical development of drug discovery.

From the presented SBP, country representatives, public and private stakeholders as well as funding agencies gave their positive responses.

The members agreed that the ASEAN can progress more rapidly in helping one another so that even people with low income can enjoy a good quality of life. They emphasized that the SBP is important in catalyzing the partnership to promote innovation and discovery of new medicine for important public health needs and finding ways to cooperate. With support from the network, ASEAN can be assured that the products will be safe, accessible, available, and affordable to the ASEAN consumers.

However, some stakeholders were concerned how countries that are lacking in R&D capacity can participate in ASEAN-NDI activities. Dr. Macaranas emphasized that it is important to have a mindset in research cooperation.

“Not everyone has sophisticated technology to offer to the Network and it is through collaboration that this gap is resolved. One country can lead a research topic they’re good at while letting the other member states contribute by providing resources,” explained Dr. Macaranas.

Dr. Zafar Mirza, Coordinator of the WHO-Public Health, Innovation, Intellectual Property and Trade (WHO-PHI) and member of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) governing board added that while it is expected that when something is raised at a regional level, countries will not be at the same level in terms of human resources, financial resources, and even of political commitment, but for a regional network to succeed, every country should be participating and involved despite varying levels of interest, capacity, and resources.

Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, Coordinator of the ASEAN-NDI Secretariat, and ASEAN Subcommittee on Biotechnology (SCB) Focal Point for the Philippines remarked that the SBP will guide the ASEAN-NDI in the conduct of its activities especially in capacitating the member states in health R&D to catalyze innovation in the region. Capacity building will be one of the main programmes of the network.

Fifty-one (51) representatives were present in the event which include representatives from the ASEAN Member States (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam), World Health Organization Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (WHO-TDR), WHO-Public Health, Innovation, Intellectual Property and Trade (WHO-PHI)/African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI), The ASEAN Secretariat, China-NDI, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Health, Department of Foreign Affairs, Asian Institute of Management, ASEAN embassies in the Philippines, and public and private sectors.

Click here to download the ASEAN-NDI Strategic Business Plan.


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