China's Fosun Pharma to build African drug manufacturing plant with help from World Bank

China’s Fosun Pharma plans to build a facility in the Ivory Coast to manufacture anti-malaria drugs and antibacterial medicines with the help of a 100 million euro ($106 million) loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—will support the project with two separate loans worth 50 million euros each to the Shanghai-based drugmaker. The facility, which will be located in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, is expected to have the capacity to produce 5 billion tablets annually, Fosun Pharma said in a June 6 press release.

The company didn't disclose the expected date of the project's completion.

Fosun Pharma, which touts itself as one of the world's largest anti-malarial drug manufacturers, supplies those products to the Global Fund, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and national drug procurement centers in Africa.

In addition to supplying the much-needed drugs in Africa, the project will also clear the way for the transfer of medical and manufacturing knowledge to the region.

"Strengthening Africa's healthcare infrastructure and capabilities is absolutely essential for the continent's future social and economic development, especially in the wake of COVID-19,” Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s vice president for Africa, said in the release. “IFC's partnership with Fosun will increase Africa's ability to manufacture essential drugs locally, helping patients more easily access high-quality, affordable medicines.”

Fosun Pharma said that at the end of 2022, its Artesun (artesunate for injection) had been used to treat more than 56 million patients with severe malaria worldwide. According to the WHO, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for more than 95% of global malaria cases and deaths.

Like other drug manufacturers, Fosun Pharma has been busy in recent years with its response to the pandemic. In one initiative, the company inked deals with BioNTech and others to bring the German mRNA specialist's COVID-19 vaccine to China and Taiwan.