Harare – More countries should sign and ratify the treaty operationalising the African Medicines Agency to ensure the continent achieves its long goal of becoming self-reliant in the provision of essential medicines.
The AMA Treaty was adopted by AU Heads of State and Government at their 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly in February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The treaty seeks to promote and standardise production of pharmaceuticals in Africa.
Africa currently imports at least 90 percent of the medicines and medical consumables it requires, a situation that has exposed citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only 19 countries have signed the AMA Treaty, and just six ratified. To become operational, the treaty requires ratification by 15 AU member states.
The head of AMA, Mr Michel Sidibe, was in Zimbabwe this week as an AU Special Envoy, to meet President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and he spoke on the importance of making the agency functional. He was accompanied by Dr Margaret Agama-Anyetei the Head of the Health, Nutrition and Population Division of the AU’s Department of Social Affairs.
“We can create jobs we can transform the (pharmaceutical) sector so we need the AMA,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic, he said, had taught the continent that it needed to be self-reliant in the production of medicines.
Dr Agama-Anyetei said among the objectives of the AU’s Agenda 2063 was a healthy and prosperous continent, a goal AMA would contribute towards.
AMA will – among other functions – designate, promote, strengthen, coordinate and monitor regional centres of regulatory excellence with a view to developing the capacity of medical products regulatory professionals. The agency will also co-ordinate inspection of drug manufacturing sites, including the regulatory oversight and safety monitoring of medical products, as determined by state parties and/or AMA.