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African experts discuss continent's capacity to manufacture medicines

BY: Emmanuel Bonney
File photo
File photo

Experts from the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector on the continent have gathered in Accra to discuss ways by which Africa can strengthen its capacity to produce its own medicines.

This is by coordinating efficiently and effectively all the initiatives geared towards enhancing the continent’s ability in manufacturing medicines locally.

The experts who are from areas of science and technology, academia, civil society, among others, are from countries including Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Kenya.

Instruments

Opening the two-day meeting in Accra last Thursday, a Senior Programmes Officer for Health at the Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA)- NEPAD, Dr Janet Byaruhanga, said one of two key instruments that would be discussed and approved was the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa Governance Framework.

The other instrument, she said, was the compendium of good policies that would enable the pharmaceutical sector to grow.

In the case of the framework for instance, she said it sought to galvanise all the initiatives around the continent that were supporting the local manufacturing of medicines in Africa.

Heads

She said in 2005, Africa Union heads of state and government agreed to strengthen the continent's capacity to develop its own medicine, particularly HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Today, however, she said discussions were beyond those three diseases to include vaccines, technologies, medical supplies and consumables.

"We are here in Accra as a group of experts to discuss two things; how we coordinate effectively and efficiently the many initiatives around the continent that aim to strengthen Africa's capacity to manufacture its own medicines," she emphasised.

The other output the meeting focused on was the compendium of good policies as it was clear that the continent's manufacturing capability could not be built without the necessary policies that would enable the pharmaceutical sector to grow.

"These policies include but not limited to the trade and industry policies, health policies, the finance and economic planning policies, the science, technical and innovation policies and the private sector policies because the industry is run and driven by the private sector," Dr Byaruhanga said.

The experts attending the meeting, she said, were from the regulatory system, quality assurance, manufacturing, research and development, technology, innovation as well as others that worked together to improve the industry.