IAPO and UAPO African regional meeting: The role of patients in African harmonisation

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

On 4th – 5th July, IAPO’s member organizations in Africa will be coming together to address the next steps forward for joined-up healthcare across the continent. The meeting, co-hosted by and IAPO and UAPO (Uganda Alliance of Patients’ Organizations) will be held in Entebbe, Uganda, bringing together patient organizations and stakeholders from over ten different countries in Africa.

For too long, patients in Africa have faced uneven access to medicines, due to there being over 50 different national medicine agencies working in isolation from one another to regulate and approve drugs. With drugs often undergoing lengthy approval processes, patients frequently face significant delays before they can access the life-saving medicines they need. This runs the risk of patients being offered unregulated and unsafe options, whilst facing dangerous delays.

Harmonisation

The lack of a harmonised strategy across countries in Africa has also limited the clear role that patients can play in engaging in decision-making structures. Without there being open and transparent ways for patients to engage, the chances of patients’ experiences and expertise being ignored in the regulation of medication and clinical trials for instance, has been at serious risk.

However, an exciting opportunity for patients is just around the corner. As part of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Initiative (AMRH) - established in 2009 by partners including the New Partnership for African Development and the World Health Organization – there is now a commitment to launch an African Medicines Agency by the end of 2018.

Role of Patients

IAPO’s member delegates will use the meeting in July to explore what this Agency means for the patient movement in Africa, and how patient advocates can ensure they have a place at the table, right from the start, in the planning and implementation of the body. Inefficient and disparate regulation systems have had had a significant impact on the quality of medical products, their safety for patients and their affordability across the continent. This meeting with provide the opportunity to address these challenges and understand the role of patients in doing so.

By coming together in July to explore successes and challenges of patient advocacy at harmonised levels, and putting together the demands that the patient movement will make regarding patient participation in the AMA, delegates will take control of the role that patients can play in increased harmonisation in Africa.

By ensuring skilled patient advocates have a place at the table in bodies such as the African Medicines Agency, we will seek to ensure that harmonised healthcare in Africa means patient-centred healthcare in Africa.