KENYA— The AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative (Pharma Initiative), in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), has organized a two-day meeting in Nairobi with the Kenyan Ministry of Health.

The objective of this meeting was to review and provide input on the Pooled Procurement Legal Instrument & Guiding Framework.

This meeting served as a forerunner to the ECA’s next Ministerial Meeting in May 2024, at which these agreements will be offered for signature and support by Ministers.

The meetings resulted in real feedback and recommendations, which helped shape Kenya’s contributions to the Centralised Pooled Procurement Mechanism (CPPM) and its legal instrument.

Ethiopia, the Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Sudan are all conducting similar reviews.

This event is an important milestone for the Pharma Initiative, which intends to assist African countries in meeting the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3, which focuses on better access to safe, high-quality, and affordable health products.

The Pharma Initiative also aims to strengthen economies and boost industrialization, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 goal of assuring African citizens’ health and well-being through increasing investments in quality healthcare.

The Nairobi meeting was attended by 11 Kenyan Technical Working Group (TWG) members, who represented various sectors such as legal, regulatory, commerce, procurement, and pharmaceuticals.

Representatives from Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board, Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, Ministry of Trade and Industrialization, Ministry of Finance, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, and the Ministry of Health’s Directorate of Health Products and Technologies were among those in attendance.

Speaking at the AFCFTA-Anchored Pharma Initiative Conference, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nakumincha S. Wafula underlined the initiative in decrease pharmaceutical expenses and boosting product quality and safety.

During her presentation at the AFCFTA-Anchored Pharma Initiative Senior Officials & Ministerial Conference on Centralized Pooled Procurement Mechanism in Mombasa, she emphasized the essential difficulty of providing affordable healthcare in Africa due to high drug costs.

Furthermore, the CS reaffirmed Kenya’s commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and emphasized the government’s efforts to reduce healthcare costs, particularly by encouraging domestic production.

She applauded Kenya’s recent adoption of the Treaty on the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), reaffirming the country’s commitment to regulatory harmonization across Africa.

Additionally, Nakhumicha underlined Kenya’s commitment to promoting local manufacturing, which aligns with President H.E Dr. William Ruto’s vision for increasing Africa’s health product manufacturing capability.

The CS underscored the importance of the AFCFTA-Anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative in boosting access to important medications and commodities, particularly those related to maternal, neonatal, and child health.

She reaffirmed Kenya’s complete support for the project, which aims to ensure the provision of safe, effective, and high-quality medical items throughout Africa.

The AfCFTA-Anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative, which is administered by the Office of the Executive Secretary Ms. Vera Songwe, Regional Integration, Gender Poverty, and Social Policy Divisions, began in 2018 with a UNECA-commissioned report on Africa’s pharmaceutical production sector.

This was then followed by the 2019 Africa Business Forum, which was informed by the report’s policy recommendations, which aimed to build regional partnerships to enhance health outcomes and change African health markets.

The Forum launched ECA’s “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” Report, which advocated for better health to fuel economic growth while highlighting the role of the private sector.

This also witnessed the formation of the African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), a group of private sector leaders focused on health outcomes and market development in Africa.

Following the ABCHealth launch, ECA hosted the AfCFTA Regional Forum for the Horn of Africa in May 2019, which emphasized the reduction of trade and investment barriers, notably in the pharmaceutical industry.

The now AfCFTA-Anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative seeks to solve socioeconomic difficulties by increasing access to important medicines and creating fiscal space for African governments.

It is operational in ten pilot countries: the Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Djibouti, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

This strategy has three pillars: coordinated pooled procurement of pharmaceutical products, supporting local manufacture, and maintaining long-term, harmonized regulatory requirements.

The successful introduction of the CPPM in July 2021 revealed prospects for private sector investment, which contributed to job creation, cost savings, and productivity increases through the AfCFTA, Africa Medicines Agency (AMA), and Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA).

With the implementation of the AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative, Africa will be in a stronger position to address challenges in the pharmaceutical industry, which include, using the AfCFTA as platforms for harmonizing national standards and through increased investment in pharmaceutical products.

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