African Union Signs Agreement with Rwanda to Host the African Medicines Agency
Rwanda’s health minister, Sabin Nsanzimana (centre) receives the AMA Host Agreement from the AU.

The African Medicine Agency (AMA) came a small step closer to reality over the weekend when Rwanda signed a Host Country Agreement with the African Union (AU) Commission.

The AMA will serve as a continental body that provides regulatory leadership on medicines, enabling a harmonized regulatory system on the continent – but it has still to be ratified by most of Africa’s powerhouses.

At the signing ceremony, Rwandan Health Minister Sabin Nsanzimana said that the AMA will build confidence in the quality of health products, promote cooperation and mutual recognition in regulatory decisions and facilitate the movement of health products on the African continent.

Thomas Cueni, Director-General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) recently described the AMA as “a bit of a mess” because it had not yet been ratified by Africa’s most powerful nations, including Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa.

However, in late May, South Africa’s Parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee recommended that the country’s parliament ratifies the AMA Treaty. The issue had been tabled in Parliament in mid-May and referred to the committee for further discussion. 

In its presentation to the committee, the South African Department of Health highlighted that the AMA would add value to the country and the continents by, amongst other things, reducing the prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines and vaccines, providing a consistent voice on regulatory issues, pool expertise from across the continent and ensure regulatory harmonisation and convergence on standards, and guidelines for quality, safety, and efficacy.

The issue will now be put to a vote in that country’s Parliament.

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