- Africa has significant gaps in ensuring good access to life-saving medicines, vaccines and health technologies.
- The continent’s 1.7 billion people represent 17% of the world’s population and bear a disproportionately high burden of disease.
Health care often follows the path of complex adaptive systems. This means that the building blocks of a health system can influence each other differently in different contexts, leading to varied outcomes.
Therefore, one of the main goals of wise decision makers is to strive to positively influence these components in order to bring about an overall positive impact. The recent establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) is one pursuit that highlights such progressive thinking.
The agency was launched in September 2021 and is responsible for strengthening regulatory oversight in all 55 countries in Africa and providing access to quality, safe and effective medicines.
In my recent one-on-one with world-renowned public health specialist Michel Sidibe, who is currently the African Special Envoy for WADA under the African Union and former UNAIDS Executive Director and Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, he passionately described what WADA seeks to achieve.
Africa has significant gaps in ensuring good access to life-saving medicines, vaccines and health technologies.
The continent’s 1.7 billion people represent 17% of the world’s population and bear a disproportionate burden of disease: they account for a quarter of the global burden of disease, 60% of people living with HIV/AIDS and more than 90 % of world population. annual cases of malaria, but with only 6% of global health expenditure and less than 1% of the global pharmaceutical market.
Additionally, it has the highest prevalence of substandard and falsified medicines, resulting in poor quality healthcare.
These long-standing challenges can be addressed through WADA’s mandate to monitor and mitigate the risk of critical drug shortages and to provide scientific drug advice.
In addition, it will coordinate clinical trials, including vaccine development and, building on the African Continental Free Trade Area, help build Africa’s research and development capacity according to best practices and international standards.
Ultimately, a critical first step for Kenya; in order to benefit from these timely agendas, is to actively ratify and intentionally participate in the discussions that continue to operationalize and shape WADA.