Patients want African medicines Agency

By Ambrose Gahene

Patients from across Africa last week gathered together in Entebbe, Uganda to discuss patient involvement in the upcoming plans for the African Medicines Agency (AMA).   Patient advocates and a range of stakeholders will be explored ways of ensuring the patient voice is reflected in the Agency, which is due to be launched in 2018 as part of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Initiative (AMRH).

The global umbrella organization, the International Alliance for Patients’ Organizations (IAPO) based in London, United Kingdom and the Uganda Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (UAPO), based in Uganda have embarked on the process of fostering patient involvement in the creation of AMA.

Kawaldip Sehmi, the Chief Executive Officer, IAPO, said: “Through interactive capacity building and knowledge-sharing sessions, IAPO and UAPO members and stakeholders will develop the tools to ensure that the patient movement across the region is made up of strong patient advocates.

Joshua Wamboga, Chair-Elect, IAPO and Executive Director, UAPO, said: “Today Africa’s disease burden is finely balanced between infectious and non-communicable diseases, both of which require quality and safe medicines to address the pressing public health challenges faced by the region today and in the future.

“We believe that patient groups and patient advocates have an important role to play in developing and implementing strategies to meet these challenges. We hope to explore how all stakeholders can better work together to make this a reality.”

In 2009 the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) Initiative was established to guarantee and accelerate regulatory harmonization in the African continent. The founding actors, which include the WHO, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Pan African Parliament, the African Regional Economic Communities and Organizations (RECs) and the national medicines regulatory authorities (NMRAs), concluded that: “Now is the right time to push for regulatory harmonization in Africa.”

Currently there is insufficient clarity around the time needed to process an application and arrive at a decision. This lack of clarity places itself within a more general context in which little transparency is in place both “before” and “during the registration process”.

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