African Medicines Agency Supporters Push to Expedite New Agency
The creation of AMA was in focus at the second International Conference on Public Health in Africa at Kigali, Rwanda
The creation of the AMA was in focus at the second International Conference on Public Health in Africa at Kigali, Rwanda

When it becomes fully operational, the AMA will complement the Africa CDC especially in the area of pandemic preparedness.

KIGALI, Rwanda – Advocates for the African Medicines Agency called on the African Union (AU) and its 55 member countries to speed up efforts to establish the African Medicines Agency (AMA), saying it will strengthen the continent’s preparedness for future pandemics and post-pandemic recovery.

An alliance of health experts, including academics, businesses and patients, said a road map is needed to quickly set up a solid governing structure, create an operational headquarters and appoint a director-general for the AMA, which would become Africa’s second-largest health agency after the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

The African Medicines Agency Treaty Alliance (AMATA) called for expedited actions on the sidelines of the second International Conference on Public Health in Africa held this past week in Kigali. Some 2,500 public health practitioners attended the new venue for tackling longstanding global health challenges in an African context.

This year’s focus was on ensuring Africa is better prepared to fight future pandemics by expanding disease surveillance, nurturing the vaccine production initiative, and strengthening health systems.

Proponents of the the new agency’s creation, however, argued it, too, is crucial for pandemic preparedness. They said safe drugs, vaccines and other pandemic response tools are at the core of efforts to boost preparedness on the continent.

But they also noted an urgent need to build up the AMA in a way that reinforces the African regulatory ecosystem at national and regional levels. 

A new health extension of the AU

AMA is being created to serve as a specialized health agency of the AU to improve the regulatory harmonization of medicines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed Africa’s vulnerabilities in ensuring access to vital drugs, and commodities,” said Michel Sidibé, the AU’s special envoy for the AMA, a former executive director of UNAIDS and former minister of health and social affairs for Mali.

Minata Samaté Cessouma, the AU’s commissioner for health, humanitarian affairs and social development, acknowledged that AMA’s headquarters has yet to be officially established despite Rwanda’s selection in July to serve as the host country.

Samaté Cessouma expressed optimism that African countries can working together on the new agency as they have done during the pandemic.

“The response to this pandemic diverted the already scarce resources and threatened some of our success. However, this pandemic has taught us that we can move mountains if we come together,” she said.

Specific demands for the African Union

At the side event, AMATA said AMA also needs to be equipped with sustainable funding and adequate human resources so it can enhance the continent’s health systems.

“The pharmaceutical regulatory processes, procedures, and expectations of manufacturing, market authorization [should be] streamlined to prevent duplication of efforts and delays in access to life-saving medicines and vaccines to all patients,” the alliance said.

It also aims to position the new agency as a pillar of research and supply chains to prevent falsified and substandard medicines reaching patients.

See more about African Medicines Agency Countdown here: 

African Medicines Agency Countdown


Image Credits: Paul Adepoju.

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