African Medicines Agency Host Country Could be Selected by July
Margaret Ndomondo-Sigonda, Head of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiative at AUDA-NEPAD

The African Union could decide on the host country for the African Medicines Agency (AMA) as early as July, while the agency’s director-general should be appointed by the end of the year.

This is according to Margaret Ndomondo-Sigonda, Head of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiative at AUDA-NEPAD, the African Union’s development agency.

The AU Assembly had recently decided to “do an assessment of the countries that have offered to host the AMA headquarters”, she told a workshop convened by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) on Monday ahead of the EU-AU Summit which starts in Brussels on Thursday.

“The AU Commission and AUDA-NEPAD are working together, and the teams are set to go out in the first week of March,” said Ndomondo-Sigonda, adding that the country visits may take two months to complete. 

“Once they are done, then the assessment report will be presented before the first meeting of the Conference of the State Parties that is planned to be held sometime in May,” she added.

Whatever decision is made by this body would have to go to the AU Assembly during its meeting in in June or July, “so by July we will know which countries actually hosting the headquarters for the African Medicines Agency,” she added.

The Assembly comprises of all Member State Heads of State and Government is the AU’s supreme policy and decision-making organ. 

Director-General may be appointed by year-end

As far as the appointment of the head of the AMA – its director general –  is concerned, this would take a little longer.

First, the Conference of the State Parties would have to consider the terms of reference for the position at its May meeting, and advertisements will only go out after that.

“By the time we get to know who has been appointed as the director-general, it will probably be quarter three or quarter four this year,” she said.

She added that AMA was being established as “a specialised agency of the African Union with its autonomy in terms of financial and human resources, so it’s going to be operating differently from what you see with Africa Centres for Disease Control at the moment”.

Meanwhile, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima welcomed the imminent establishment of the AMA.

“Since the very beginning of the COVID crisis, the multilateral response may have failed us but African leadership has been remarkable,” said Byanyima at a workshop on Monday. “The newly created African Medicines Agency will harmonise medicine regulations, and negotiate joint purchasing and the manufacture of our own medicines.”

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