Accelerating Patient Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Africa

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021, Corporate Council on Africa’s (CCA) U.S. – Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative (HSRI) held a virtual roundtable on “Accelerating Patient Access to Medicines and Vaccines in Africa”. The panel, focused on the implementation of innovative ways of working to modernize regulatory systems in Africa, was moderated by Leah Kaplow of McKinsey & Company and featured both private sector and public sector speakers.

Panelists began by referencing the African Union Model Law on Medical Products Regulation for providing a legislative framework to address challenges by harmonizing requirements and processes. Representing the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority, CEO Delese Darko spoke of the shift in regulation practices which began during COVID-19 towards a rolling basis of submissions to expedite processes. Bonface Fundafunda, CEO of the Africa Resource Center, echoed her sentiment, drawing on the “extra harmonization [between the public and private sectors] during COVID-19”, which allowed for swifter action to make products available. From the private sector, Dr. John Mwangi, co-chair of the African Regulatory Network of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, spoke of the approval processes and the need to continue investing in post-approval/ market changes in order to improve on quality and incorporate new elements with the ultimate aim of expanding access to safe, quality and effective medicines for patients in need in the continent.

The session focused on the harmonization between regulators and industry, particularly during post-regulation. With greater trust between industry and regulators through the sharing of safety data and monitoring of adverse events in a timely manner, confidence is created, no matter the country.  With the recent establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) , the panelists reflected on its impact on ongoing country and regional harmonization efforts.

Panelists answered questions related to the importance of digitization in creating cross-country connectivity, the need for clear communication to facilitate the educating process between regulators and industry players, and how industry can improve the ease of doing business through greater movement of goods.

This event is part of CCA’s launched U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative (HSRI). HSRI works to convene key stakeholders to discuss strategic collaborations that support strengthening health systems for improved health security by leveraging the role of the private sector on the path to economic recovery on the continent.