The African Development Bank Group has appointed renowned Professor Padmashree Gehl Sampath as a special advisor on pharmaceuticals and health infrastructure to the Bank’s president, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina. She will also be leading the technical work related to the setting up of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation, a new pan-African institution launched by the Bank, at the request of Regional Member Countries.
A well-respected thought leader in the field of development studies and global health, Professor Gehl Sampath is working on some of the world’s most pressing challenges, predominantly from technology, trade, and industrialization perspectives. At the African Development Bank, she will provide strategic guidance on pharmaceuticals and health, which have become important focus areas for the Bank in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Professor Gehl Sampath was born in India and received her education in India, Germany, and the USA. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hamburg, Germany, with an academic background in engineering, economics, and law.
Professor Gehl Sampath is one of the original thinkers on new paradigms for international technology transactions that can better secure global public goods, with a focus on pharmaceuticals and health. Her work in this area spans more than two decades. It has focused on understanding questions of access to technology and know-how, and how its absence impacts local production and availability of drugs, vaccines and therapeutics at the firm, ecosystem, country, and regional levels.
Professor Gehl Sampath has conceptualized and managed large projects on intellectual property rights and access to medicines, as well as supported the formulation and implementation of technology policy incentives for the global pharmaceutical sector. Since November 2021, Gehl Sampath has served as Director, Global Access in Action Program at Harvard University, USA, where she was previously Senior Advisor since 2017. She has been a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University since September 2018, working on projects from a wider industrialization and digital economy perspective.
Between 2009 and 2016, Professor Gehl Sampath served at the United Nations, leading its work on technology and innovation. She is currently the chairperson of the Technical Advisory Group of the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool (CTAP) of the World Health Organization, contributing her expertise on technology transfer and technological licensing. Since 2021, she has advised the German International Agency (GIZ) and Germany’s Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) on accelerating vaccine production in Africa.
Her vast experience includes serving on the Scientific Review Committee of the Partnership on African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) of the Africa-Centers for Disease Control in 2021, and she currently serves on the Advisory Council of the African Continental Free Trade Area and leads a large regional project focused on building regional centers of excellence for vaccine production in Africa at the University of Johannesburg where she is a visiting professor.
Professor Gehl Sampath has also been working with the African Development Bank Group on the conceptualization of the African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation since 2021.
Commenting on her appointment as a special advisor on pharmaceuticals and health to Dr. Adesina, Prof Gehl Sampath said: “Building Africa’s pharmaceutical sector to serve the continent is an idea whose time has come. I am deeply inspired by the trust placed in me by Dr. Adesina and I look forward to working closely with the president and the entire senior management team at the African Development Bank to make this a reality.”
Announcing the appointment, African Development Bank Group President Dr. Adesina said Professor Gehl Sampath’s appointment was a logical step considering the Bank Group’s bold efforts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. To tackle challenges arising from the pandemic, the Boards of the African Development Bank Group approved a Quality Health Infrastructure Strategy and an action plan to develop pharmaceutical capacity in Africa for pharmaceutical products and vaccines.
“I am delighted to appoint Professor Gehl Sampath as Special Advisor on Pharmaceuticals and Health Infrastructure,” Dr. Adesina said. “She will provide strategic guidance on these new areas where we will be investing. She is a globally acclaimed leader who brings global expertise and experience on pharmaceutical and health policy that will greatly enhance the work and delivery of the African Development Bank Group on its planned investments for pharmaceuticals and vaccines, as well as quality healthcare infrastructure for Africa.”
At the request of Regional Member Countries, the African Development Bank Group plans to invest $3 billion in the development of pharmaceutical products as part of its efforts to industrialize Africa and lessen the continent’s reliance on imports.
The African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation will address intellectual property rights issues, patents, and copyrights that constrain the access of Africa to technologies, know-how, and processes for boosting the industrial manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and vaccines.