KENYA— African Ministers of Health, Finance, and Trade, along with experts and development partners, have agreed to transition the AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative (Pharma Initiative) into the start-up phase of the African Pooled Procurement Mechanism (APPM).

The APPM is a result of a decision by the African Union Summit, where Heads of State and Government recognized the need to establish a pooled procurement mechanism under the leadership of the Africa CDC and endorsed the AMSP as the platform for this mechanism.

As a result, the AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative will now be implemented within the APPM framework.

This decision followed a three-day meeting in Mombasa, Kenya, organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and other partners.

The ministers agreed that the APPM, led by Africa CDC with the support of Afreximbank and ECA, will facilitate the seamless transition of the Pharma Initiative into its start-up phase.

This transition aims to maintain momentum in improving healthcare access, promoting industrialization, and ensuring economic and health security across the continent.

They also resolved that ECA, Africa CDC, and Afreximbank will begin pooled procurement of products already selected under the Pharma Initiative, with plans to gradually include more products and manufacturers.

AUDA-NEPAD will accelerate the operationalization of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) to enhance access to quality, safe, and affordable medical products across Africa.

In his address, Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division at ECA, emphasized that APPM will provide a collaborative framework of common regulatory and quality standards to ensure that pharmaceutical drugs and products are effective, affordable, and safe.

He noted that linking this health initiative to AfCFTA and AMA presents significant opportunities to improve lives, reduce poverty, and contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic development across the continent.

Karingi also highlighted that the Pharma Initiative aims to foster inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic development through a single market of approximately 1.4 billion Africans, who face disproportionate impacts of diseases and high costs of importing critical life-saving health products.

For his part, Dr. Abebe Bayih, Acting Coordinator of the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM), mentioned that APPM, like the Pharma Initiative, will be anchored on localized pharmaceutical production, pooled procurement, and a harmonized regulatory and quality standard framework.

The start-up phase of the APPM will focus on Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health (SRMNCH) to demonstrate proof of concept in the ten African countries participating in the Pharma Initiative: Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Sudan. This phase includes pooled procurement of at least five SRMNCH medicines.

Kwabena Ayirebi, Director of Banking Operations at Afreximbank, emphasized the importance of risk assessment and foreign currency integration in financing African healthcare.

He reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to support the initiative and swiftly address financing and implementation needs.

Bernard Valentin, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health in Seychelles, highlighted the need to minimize the risk of falsified and substandard medicines in the African market, ensuring access to quality, safe, and affordable medicines and medical devices.

Commenting on the initiative, Tom Mende from Kenya’s Ministry of Health noted that the initiative will prevent the negative consequences of competitive buying and ensure compliance with public procurement laws in Kenya.

He stressed the need for national medical record systems to fill data gaps on the continent and ensure reliable access to information.

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