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Commitment to the African Medicines Agency Needs More Than Words – Global Issues

To date, 19 countries have ratified the treaty. However, this number is still far behind the 55 AU member states and excludes some regional powers such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Senegal. Credit: Charles Mpaka / IPS
  • Idea by Johnpaul Omollo, Taoga Chilalika (nairobi / johannesburg)
  • Joint press service

In November 2021, after 15 countries signed and ratified the AMA treaty, the AMA became the specialized agency of the African Union (AU). Now, 19 countries – Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe – ratified the treaty.

However, this number is still far behind the 55 AU member states and excludes some regional powers such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Senegal.

Over the next five years, Africa’s healthcare sector, particularly local pharmaceutical manufacturing, will be the main economic driver for the region — projected to account for around 2% of the global pharmaceutical market. in 2022.

Harmonizing health product regulations will make Africa a more attractive market for the pharmaceutical sector, both for research and development, and for the introduction of innovations.

These harmonization efforts will further improve trade supporting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), by deepening African integration and enabling the development of commodity and commodity markets. medical technology? Most importantly, the agency will coordinate joint assessments and inspections of a selected group of products, and coordinate capacity building.

The next two years will be critical in establishing the agency, including selecting a host country, appointing a director general, recruiting staff, and setting up an office for the AMA. Countries that have not yet ratified will have no input into these important decisions, which will enhance the pharmaceutical regulatory environment in the region.

This is a long journey. The agency has its roots in the African Drug Regulation Harmonization (AMRH) initiative launched in 2012, led by the African Union Agency for Development (AUDA-NEPAD). challenges faced in drug regulation in Africa.

These challenges include weak legislative frameworks, slow and counterfeit drug registration processes, and protracted approval decision, limited technical capacity and weak supply chain control. As COVID-19 has shown, these challenges pose economic and public health risks to the continent.

To improve the distributed regulatory system of medical product registration in Africa, the vision is to gradually move from a country-centred approach, with 55 countries operating independently, to an area of ​​cooperation, with five Regional Economic Communities supporting one Agency.

The AMA will review regional policies and identify new sources of funding to strengthen national capacity in drug management, as well as attempt to simplify complex requirements from regulatory standards and guidelines. regional and global.

Member States should also be aware of the broad operational processes required to establish the administrative and technical workflows of the agency. For example, as part of the administrative process, they need to select the host country, appoint the Director-General, recruit staff, set up office space and register a treaty with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

We need to move quickly to make sure the entire continent is on board. By now, every AU member state should have approved and ratified the AMA by signing, ratifying and depositing its instruments with the AU committee.

Member States should commit resources to co-finance the agency’s activities as a top priority, building on existing commitments from more than 100 million eurosby Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and European Union.

With a vision to prepare Africa to facilitate the production of 60% of the vaccines needed on the continent by 2040, the establishment of the AMA is a clear call to countries and institutions. management agency. We must urgently put in place the necessary tools to optimize the Agency’s operations by the end of 2022.

We welcome the 19 member states that have ratified the AMA. We call on these states to become champions by promoting the agency’s interests across the continent to encourage and motivate the rest to join and ratify the African Medicines Agency.

Johnpaul Omollo is the Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at PATH in Kenya. Follow him on Twitter @JPmcOmollo

Taoga Chilalika is a Senior Policy and Advocacy Associate at PATH in South Africa. Follow her on Twitter @TaongaChilalika.

© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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