AFRICA – Uganda, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zimbabwe have been officially confirmed as candidates to host the permanent headquarters of the African Medicines Agency (AMA).

The African Medicines Agency is a proposed specialized agency of the African Union intended to facilitate the harmonization of regulatory requirements in African pharmaceutical markets to guarantee access to quality, safe and efficacious medicines, medical products and technologies on the continent.

A treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency recently came into force and the next step in transforming the AMA from a treaty to an actual institution is to decide on a host country for the agency’s headquarters.

The race to establish AMA comes after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the region’s dependence on imported vaccines and other pharmaceuticals for instance, just over 5% of medicines and 1% of vaccines consumed by the population of 1.2 billion people are produced locally.

Subsequently, the increased risk of disease outbreaks in the region and globally has made access to medical products along with harmonized regulatory environment a priority across African countries particularly trade in locally produced medical products such as Personal Protective Equipment.

The eight candidates selected to host the continental regulatory agency were announced during the First Ordinary Session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) to the African Medicines Agency Treaty held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 1st to 2nd June 2022.

Uganda’s delegation to the CoSP meeting was led by the country’s Minister of Health, Dr Jane Aceng and Dr Diana Atwine, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health while Zimbabwe’s team was a four-member delegation led by the country’s Health and Child Care deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro.

Other representatives of the African Union Commission and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) that participated in the meeting include Sierra Leone Minister of Health and Sanitation Dr Austin Demby.

The CoSP is expected to present the final decision about recommendations on the host country of the AMA Headquarters at the next African Union Assembly Session after reviewing the AMA assessment report at the end of their meeting.

An independent African experts team mandated by the African Union Commission prepared a comprehensive report that will include a ranking of the applicants according to the degree of compliance with the pre-established criteria for hosting the headquarters of the AMA,” said the AU in a statement.

In addition, officials at the three-day ministerial meeting deliberated on the priorities and next steps to establish the AMA since the launch of the AMA will be another landmark initiative of the African Union as part of the Agenda 2063 for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.

The CoSP meeting was also an important platform to call on all member states to sign the AMA Treaty to see improved regulation and easy flow of medical products and technologies for a healthy Africa.

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