Africa CDC Announces Pooled Medicines Procurement at AU Summit; Leaders Called Upon To Expedite African Medicines Agency Set-Up
Africa CDC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – gains new clout for medicines manufacturer with a pooled market initiative

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), has announced the creation of a pooled African medicines procurement mechanism at the 37th African Union Summit, which ended yesterday. 

The mechanism aims to spearhead “a new era of predictable demand for African manufacturers, empowering them to plan for the long-term and establish a robust market worth over $50 billion,” said the CDC in a press release on Monday, just after the close of the Summit in Addis Ababa. 

Meanwhile, members of the African Medicines Agency Treaty Alliance (AMATA) urged AU Member States attending the summit to expedite the final set-up of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), which is supposed to help create a more unified regulatory market, essential to pooled procurement. 

AMATA, an alliance representing African patients, academia, civil society, and industry, also called upon the 28 remaining AU states that haven’t yet ratified the AMA treaty to do so rapidly. 

“To date, 27 countries have ratified the treaty, an important achievement that warrants celebration,” AMATA said in a statement. “However, the ratification and deposit of instruments by all 55 Member States is imperative to unify us as one Pan-African Medicines Regulatory Family and to pave the way for the practical implementation of the Agency. We now call on the remaining family of African Union Member States that have yet to ratify and deposit their AMA Treaty instruments to do so urgently,” said AMATA, which took part in a high-level meeting on the AMA, on the margins of the AU summit. 

‘Second independence of Africa’  

With regards to the new African CDC medicines procurement mechanism, Africa CDC Director General Dr. Jean Kaseya said: “The decision means the creation of a robust market for manufacturers and ensures the health security of all Africans.  This will be the second independence of Africa.”

 The African market size for medicines and vaccines is approximately $50 billion USD a year. Africa CDC will be leading the pooled procurement initiative “in collaboration with continental and global partners,” the CDC statement said, without specifying who. ” The move is also designed to ensure that African Union member states can get better deals on price.”

Coinciding with the decision, the African Union also voted to broaden the Africa CDC’s mandate to include the manufacturing of medicines and diagnostics, in addition to its current remit of  vaccines. 

Less than one percent of vaccines are currently manufactured on the continent – a factor that led to the massive inequalities in acccess to COVID-19 vaccines seen on the continent during the pandemic. African leaders have since established a goal that 60% of the vaccines needed by the continent will be manufactured in Africa by 2040, with the CDC positioning itself to play a role leveraging collaborations and deals with the pharma sector. 

AMA critical to boosting African manufacturing 

Rapid establishment of the African Medicines Agency remains critical to “open up more opportunities to boost local manufacturing capacities, promote country participation in clinical research and foster other scientific development activities,” AMATA stressed in its statement. 

Some 37 of the AU’s 55 member states have signed the treaty creating a continental-wide medicines agency, with major countries like Kenya and Ethiopia also moving to ratify the treaty in mid- and late 2023.

But some of Africa’s leading  economic powerhouses like South Africa and Nigeria, remain holdouts – and are not even signatories on the treaty to date.  

Botswana, Zambia. Mozambique and Angola in southern Africa also haven’t signed the treaty either. Nor have conflict-ridden Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Libya and the Central African Republic.  

AMA engagement with non-state actors critical 

The AMA also has not yet publicly named a director, prompting calls for the more rapid “operationalization” of its operations among participants in the high-level meeting at the AU summit. 

AMATA also called upon the new AMA Governing Board to establish a framework of engagement with non-state actors drawing upon “all available expertise from academia, research bodies, private sector and community and patient groups to provide technical guidance on specific areas.” 

And it called upon the new AMA Board “to recognise patients as key partners in the management structures and development of the future Agency.”

The African Medicines Agency  is supposed to  streamline regulatory frameworks across the continent – thus enhancing the capacity of governments to approve and monitor vaccines, repurposed and innovative medicines and health technologies in a timely manner. 

The AMA treaty, adopted at the AU Assembly in 2019, came into force on 5 November 2021 following the deposit of the 15th ‎instrument of ratification.

“A strong unified regulatory system will greatly contribute to combating falsified and substandard medicinal products, a serious threat to the African continent,” added AMATA in its statement, adding that. “Coordinated market surveillance, centralised information collection and data sharing between countries will complement and strengthen national efforts to reduce the circulation of falsified products and increase access to safe and innovative products.

“In ratifying and operationalising the African Medicines Agency Treaty, we embrace the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to the health, prosperity, and unity of societies in Africa, empowering our continent to thrive,” . Let us seize the momentum provided by the 37th AU Summit this week to take this crucial step towards a brighter and healthier future for all Africans,” AMATA said.




Image Credits: Africa CDC .

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