The AfCFTA- Anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative is an interdivisional project under of the Office of the Executive Secretary Ms. Vera Songwe, Regional Integration and Gender Poverty and Social Policy Divisions.
The AfCFTA- Anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative journey began in 2018, when UNECA commissioned a report titled “Review of Policies and Strategies for the Pharmaceutical Production Sector in Africa: Policy coherence, best practices and future prospective”. The policy recommendations emanating from report informed the 2019 Africa Business Forum which was convened on the margins of African Union Summit on 12 February 2019. The Forum’s objective was to facilitate and consolidate a regional partnership between private and public sector for the purposes of advancing health outcomes and shape health markets in Africa to spur improved health and wellbeing of its people and economy. The Forum saw the launch of ECA’s “Healthcare and Economic Growth in Africa” Report which advocates for improving health to drive economic growth in Africa and the need for private sector to play a significant role on the same. The Forum culminated with the launch of African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), an African led coalition that mobilizes a core group of private sector champions to advance health outcomes and shape health markets in Africa.
Following the launch of ABCHealth, the ECA convened an AfCFTA Regional Forum for the Horn of Africa on the theme of: “AfCFTA Ratification and Implementation: Breaking Down Geographical, Logistical and Regulatory Barriers to Trade and Investment in the Horn to Boost Industrialization – A Focus on the Pharmaceutical Industry” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 23-24 May 2019
As part of its mandate to deliver on Agenda 2063, the SDGs and operationalization of the African Continental Free Area (AfCFTA) by translating ideas into action and in line with its commitment that private sector and public sector dialogue yields tangible outcomes, the ECA went on to conceptualize The AfCFTA-Anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative. Commissioned in 10 selected pilot African countries which include Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Djibouti, Eritrea, Rwanda, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia, the AfCFTA-anchored Pharma initiative’s key objective is to address socio-economic-related challenges facing African member countries in improving access to maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) essential medicines and commodities and the creation of fiscal space to the African Governments given the emerging trend of rising government debts.
The Initiative pursues a three-pillar approach to build up the continent’s healthcare industry through managed pooled procurement of pharmaceutical (PPP) products in the pilot countries, facilitate local production of pharmaceuticals and lastly, to ensure a sustainable harmonized regulatory, quality, and standards of medicines and related medical products.
The successful launch of AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative’s Centralised Pooled Procurement Mechanism (CPPM), held in July, 29, 2021 showcased health business opportunities for private sector investment contributing towards creation of jobs, cost savings and productivity gains leveraging on the AfCFTA, the Africa Medicines Agency (AMA), and the Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA).
With the implementation of AfCFTA -anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative, Africa will be in a stronger position to address the twin challenges in the pharmaceutical industry: (i) in the short-to-medium term, by using the AfCFTA as platforms for harmonizing national standards as well pool procurement of medicines and pharmaceutical products, and (ii) in the long-term, through increased investment in pharmaceutical production and exports.