Chopped by Samantha Akakpo

A new African era?

SDG 3 SDG 17

Are we at the dawn of a new era for Africa ? Malaria vaccine, RTS,S, thousands of lives saved each year , African Medicines Agency , regulatory harmonisation, collaboration , effective medicines regulation are some of the words we are currently hearing in the medias, with regards to public health in Africa.

This resonates with the WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus words : « This is a historic moment. The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control ».

Indeed, the introduction of the WHO-recommended RTS,S malaria vaccine among the small ones in Sub-Saharan African countries and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission is of great importance.

While the world is facing the Covid19 pandemics with its challenges and fears, some hopes are arising with the recommendation of the use of this additional important tool, along with bednets and seasonal malaria chemoprevention in the fight against this childhood illness which kills more than 260 000 African children under the age of five each year.
In a pilot programme run in three African countries (Malawi, Kenya and Ghana), the vaccine developed by the UK pharmaceutical giant GSK, reduces hospitalizations for severe malaria by 30 per cent.

At the same time, seems like we are at a turning point for enhancing regulatory oversight and facilitating access to safe and affordable medicines across Africa with the launch of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), today 05 November 2021! This is a big day, and indeed a new era !
05 October was marked by the ratification of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) treaty by 15 African Union (AU) member countries, setting the 30-day clock start before AMA official start day.
Even though the AU adopted the treaty to set up the AMA back in February 2019, 15 African countries needed to formally notify the AU Commission that they had ratified the treaty before the agency could be set up. To date, at minimum 36 out of Africa’s 55 countries (mostly Francophone countries) have expressed interest and support for the AMA.

The AMA’s framework will be very important, not only in the fight for counterfeit medicines, which is a plague on the continent, but also for reducing barriers to African market entry.

Leadership, collaboration, transparence, mutual aid, capacity building are key in this new era. One can think that the AMA can engage and get inspiration from other initiatives or agencies such as the African medicines Regulatory harmonization (AMRH) initiative, African Center for diseases control (CDC), the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

What is next ? Universal health coverage (UHC) ? Malaria eradication ? among others ?

Let’s still be guided by hope and resilience.

Samantha Akakpo
05 Nov 2021

Chopped by

Samantha Akakpo

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