RWANDA – The Republic of Rwanda has hosted a regional workshop on local manufacturing of medical products in Kigali organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and partners towards Africa’s drug self-reliance.

The United Nations agency said the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and partners held a 3-day Technical Review Panel (TRP) Evaluation Workshop for its African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative in Rwanda from the 13th –15th September 2022.

The TRP membership is comprised of the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO-AFRO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Other members of the Technical Review Panel include the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa revealed that after lengthy but productive deliberations, the TRP selected five out of the eleven companies for further evaluation under the Pharma Initiative Guidelines.

The workshop held in Rwanda aimed to review the Expression of Interest proposals submitted for the Local Pharmaceutical Production Pillar of the Initiative to produce Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child Healthcare (SRMNCH) products in Africa.

According to ECA, the selected companies will undergo further evaluation to ascertain the technical and financial support they need from the ECA and its collaborating partners to enable them to scale up production of quality assured SRMNCH products in Africa.

In addition, the workshop organized by ECA and partners is a huge step towards actualization of the Pharma Initiative’s three 3 pillars namely pooled-procurement, localized production, and harmonized regulatory quality standards of medicines.

ECA Chief of Regional Integration Section, Mr. Francis Ikome welcomed members of Technical Review Panel while outlining a review of the global and regional frameworks based on the initiative’s three 3 pillars as well as the historic events which led to the formation of the Pharma Initiative.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa underscored that the ECA-led AfCFTA Pharma Initiative provides a validated and continentally anchored blueprint for scaling up Sexual Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (SRMNCH) products in Africa.

Furthermore, the AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative represents lucrative private sector investment and innovation opportunities that will change lives, reduce poverty and contribute to Africa’s inclusive and sustainable economic development.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa further said that the Pharma Initiative is leveraging on the implementation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Dr. Nyirimigabo Fatouma, representing the Director General of the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority, said the government of Rwanda strongly advocates for pooled procurement along with the pilot countries and as the host of the African Medicine Agency Secretariat.

We are looking forward to engaging with all stakeholders to ensure that continental pharmaceutical production complies with WHO standards,” Dr. Nyirimigabo Fatouma added.

At the same time, Mr. Moses Chisale, Chair of the TRP and Technical Advisor, WHO-AFRO pointed out that the Pharma Initiative should be commended for the work it is doing especially regarding policy dialogue engagements.

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