15 September 2022, Kigali, Rwanda (ECA) - The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Partners held a 3-day Technical Review Panel (TRP) Evaluation Workshop for its African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative in Kigali, Rwanda from the 13th –15th September 2022. The workshop’s objective was 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. The TRP whose membership is comprised of WHO-AFRO, UNIDO, UNICEF, AUC, AUDA-NEPAD, UNFPA, United States Pharmacopeia (USP) and UNAIDS was chaired by the WHO-AFRO.
The ECA Chief of Regional Integration Section, Mr. Francis Ikome welcomed members of the TRP and highlighted the historic events which led to the formation of the Pharma Initiative. Mr Ikome took the meeting through a review of the global and regional frameworks based on the initiative’s three 3 pillars, namely Pooled-Procurement, localized production, and harmonized regulatory quality standards of medicines. He emphasized 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. The Initiative is also leveraging on the implementation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In his opening remarks, 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 (AMA) Secretariat. He explained ‘we are looking forward to engaging with all stakeholders to ensure that continental pharmaceutical production complies with WHO standards’.
Mr. Moses Chisale, Chair of the TRP and Technical Advisor, World Health Organization-Africa Region (WHO-AFRO) said the Pharma Initiative should be commended for the work it is doing especially regarding policy dialogue engagements. He added ‘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.’
After lengthy but productive deliberations, the TRP selected five out of the eleven companies for further evaluation under the Pharma Initiative Guidelines. 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.
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