NAIROBI, DECEMBER 30, 2023 – The 44th East African Community [EAC] Ordinary Council of Ministers, in their meeting held recently, adopted the regional policy framework for the promotion of antibiotics production and supply in the EAC and a regional cooperation mechanism for information exchange for the production and supply of antibiotics.
The information on the adoption of the two documents came during the close out meeting of the EAC-UNCTAD project on “Investment incentives for local production of essential antibiotics in East Africa” held in Nairobi in early December attended by representatives from the EAC and its Partner States, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [UNCTAD], GIZ and GFA Consulting group.
Since, 2019, the EAC Secretariat has been collaborating with UNCTAD to develop and support the implementation of the above policy documents. The project which ends on December 31, 2023 was supported through technical and financial assistance by the Intellectual Property Unit- Division on Investment and Enterprise unit of UNCTAD.
The foregoing policy documents were developed through extensive multistakeholder consultations at the national and regional level as well as sensitization meetings with senior officials including Permanent Secretaries of Ministries responsible for health and industry. Cumulatively, the project engaged over 300 stakeholders from both public and private sectors cross the region.
Jean Baptiste Havugimana, the Director of Productive Sectors, EAC Secretariat, noted that, one hand “The Policy Framework on Production and Supply of Antibiotics which have been approved by the Council of Ministers, introduces incentives that address the current bottlenecks on local production of antibiotics in the region.
On the other hand, the regional cooperation mechanism for information exchange on production and supply of antibiotics will enable the development and update on a regular basis of a short list of essential antibiotics that are experiencing shortages, recurrent interruption of supply, excessive pricing, and other supply challenges”.
He thanked UNCTAD for the cordial collaboration that had enabled the region adopt the documents and called for more future collaboration.
Dr. Juma Mukhwana, the Principal Secretary for Industry, Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry State Department for Industry appreciated the UNCTAD support saying “We wish to express our sincere gratitude to UNCTAD for the technical and financial support provided to the region through this project”.
He noted that pharmaceutical producers in the region tend to focus on a limited range of antibiotics, while neglecting newer antibiotics and others that are needed as much. Consequently, over-supply and over-reliance on a narrow range of antibiotics poses a high risk for antimicrobial resistance development. These challenges are made worse with the fact that the region depends on over 70% of its medicines on imports. Therefore, this necessitates the urgent need for Partner States to implement the policy incentives to attract investments in the region.
Further, Dr. Mukhwana informed the meeting that the Republic of Kenya, is committed to work with the other EAC Partner States to see the growth of investments in local production in the region. “In particular we wish to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to UNCTAD for proving this technical assistance to region”. Mukhwana called on UNCTAD to extend its support and work with the region once again to promote and upgrade investments in the region and Africa as a whole.
Speaking during the same function, Bruno Casella, Senior Economist and Chief, Intellectual Property Unit, Division Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD noted that “ the project proved to be very successful in delivering on all expected outcomes, culminating with the approval by the EAC Council of Ministers of the two main policy instruments consisting of a regional policy framework and a regional cooperation mechanism that introduce incentives that address the current bottlenecks on local production of antibiotics in the region and allow information exchange to support local production of antibiotics at regional level.
Beyond the concrete value brought to EAC Partner States and the region, this project situates at the juncture of two major strategic directions of UNCTAD global research and policy works, investment in pharma local production and regionalism”.
The implementation of the EAC Regional Policy Framework on the Production and Supply of Antibiotics and Regional cooperation mechanism for information exchange on antibiotics will require a multisectoral approach at the interface of health, trade, industry, and investment. The existing implementation structures for the EAC pharmaceutical policies and strategies at the regional and national level will be utilized.
Whilst it is envisaged that the two instruments will be implemented using the existing structures and policy organs for coordinating EAC pharmaceutical policies and strategies, the capacity at both the national and regional levels will need to be enhanced as part of the policy implementation process.
In addition, the implementation of the two instruments would require: change in policy and regulatory measures; change to existing or introduction of new practices; as well implementation monitoring and reporting.
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