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Amah’s multi-generational legacy of healing

March 14, 2023

Amah Dondinaa Gnassingbe is a WIPO Academy alumnus who is using intellectual property (IP) to fight sickle cell disease in Africa. With his patent-protected medicine he is helping patients manage their illness and live a normal life.

Like father, like son

Amah at his dissertation defense at the
University of Yaoundé II in Cameroon (2013).
(Photo: Amah Dondinaa Gnassingbe)

Amah is a second generation innovator of a novel treatment for sickle cell disease, an illness that has plagued his community in Togo and the African Region as a whole. Amah’s father was a doctor who treated sickle cell patients and Amah witnessed firsthand the pain and suffering caused by the diagnosis. In 2006 he started working on a treatment for the disease with his father, combining the active ingredients of 10 different plants used in traditional medicine to supplement other medical treatments used by the patients.

Despite his father passing away in 2012, Amah continued to develop the new medication and filed a patent for it in 2016 with the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI). The treatment helps sickle cell patients prevent a crises and allows them to live a normal life. Amah was granted protection for the medicine in all OAPI member states and started commercializing his medication in Niger. His current challenge is exporting the medication to other countries because the liquid form of the medicine makes it costly to transport.

I have never promoted my medicine, but my patients promoted it through word of mouth. Instead I like to promote IP because one cannot do anything without it. I have taught over 1,500 students at university so far, and at least half of them have done the General Distance Learning Course on IP (DL-101) at my request. Africa needs young people who are empowered by IP because knowledge brings partnerships and collaboration, which is necessary for the youth to rise up.

Amah Dondinaa Gnassingbe, WIPO Academy alumnus

IP knowledge shared is power multiplied

Amah with his fellow participants in the WIPO International Patent Drafting Program in Geneva, Switzerland (2022). (Photo: Amah Dondinaa Gnassingbe)

Amah has an academic background in engineering and computer science but spurred by his father’s interest in IP and drug development, he pursed IP higher education and is graduate of the Joint Master’s Degree in IP, offered by the WIPO Academy, OAPI and the University of Yaoundé II (class of 2014). He recently received a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology, health and development so he can take care of his patients in a holistic way. In 2022, Amah participated in the first edition of the WIPO International Patent Drafting Program which was developed by WIPO in collaboration with the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI) to enhance the knowledge and skills of professionals who wish to strengthen their patent drafting skills.

The Master’s degree program was very practical and very intensive but I felt very supported by the organizers. I appreciated that the students on the program came from all over the world. To this day I am still in touch with the alumni from my cohort and we support each other whenever possible. It is a great support system.

Amah Dondinaa Gnassingbe, WIPO Academy alumnus

Amah also works as a computer science engineer at the National Council for the Fight Against AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Togo and he teaches computer science and programming analysis methodologies at private universities across the country.

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