‘African Patients Village’ - IAPO Side Event at the 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa

‘African Patients Village’ - IAPO Side Event at the 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

Date: Wednesday, 30 August 2023 

Time: 6:15pm - 8:30 pm CAT. Welcome drinks and nibbles from 6:15pm 

Venue: Protea Hotel Gaborone Masa Square (Masa Square, New CBD, Cnr 1st & Western Commercial Avenue, Gaborone, Botswana).


This event will also be broadcasted on YouTube page here.




This Side Event is a tribute to our recently departed dear friend, colleague and IAPO CEO Kawaldip Sehmi and all the great work he did in advocating patient-centred healthcare across the world by bringing to life the vision he had for the 73rd WHO Africa Regional Committee (73rd WHO Africa RC).

Botswana is hosting the 73rd WHO Africa RC, from 28th August to 1st September 2023, where 47 African Member States will be participating alongside patients and a wide community of health stakeholders to discuss healthcare in Africa with a robust agenda planned. 

IAPO will hold a Side Event at the 73rd WHO Africa RC titled African Patients Village, a patient-led multistakeholder arena where we will explore the power of togetherness and address current health challenges and promote patient-centred sustainable and resilient health systems in Africa. The main focus of the African Patients Village this year will be on e-health solutions co-designed through public-private-patient organizations collaborations, and multistakeholder engagement in support of the efforts for ensuring access to safe medical products institutionalized through the recently established African Medicines Agency. 

Using traditional wisdom, we believe that the world is now a global village, and it takes an entire village to raise a healthy world. This also applies to Africa and each region of the world.

By gathering together, we can be stronger than our problems:

When we gather together in the moonlight village ground, it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so. Therefore, let us continue with the team spirit and enjoy the power of togetherness. Let’s smile not because we don’t have problems but because we are stronger than the problems (Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart)

The pandemic showed us that the whole of government working with the whole of patient organizations, industry, regulators and other health stakeholders is fundamental for the stability and longevity of health systems, that ultimately lead to better health and longevity in Africa. Together, collaboratively, we can raise a healthy Africa.

The African Patients Village, a patient-led multistakeholder arena where health issues can be discussed and addressed collaboratively, is the epitome of the power of togetherness.  

Expert patient engagement and co-creation in health systems is now recognised as a fundamental asset and resource to deliver universal health coverage. Lived experience is expertise in its own right and critical in shaping health systems and improving health outcomes. This has been incorporated in the WHO Framework for Meaningful Engagement of People Living with NCDs and Mental Health and Neurological Conditions. This Framework is designed to provide practical guidance, norms, and standards to support WHO and Member States advancing, co-creating, and enhancing policies, programmes, and services through the meaningful engagement of individuals with lived experience of these health conditions.

We believe the time is right for patients to lead the discussions on key health issues in the region, and participate meaningfully in the co-designing of the African health ecosystem. 


Multistakeholder engagement at the African Medicines Agency: Can patients play a bigger role?

The first part of the African Patients Village will explore the progress and challenges in the journey to operationalise the African Medicines Agency (AMA), the specialised agency of the African Union (AU) intended to facilitate harmonisation of medicines regulation throughout the continent. The AMA is key to ensure African patients will have timely access to safe, effective, quality medicines, vaccines, medical devices, diagnostics and technology.

The Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency was adopted by the AU in February 2019. It came into effect on 5 November 2021, after ratification from 15 AU Member States, as stipulated in the Treaty. The challenge now is the operationalisation of AMA, which depends on the collaboration and alignment of different stakeholders. The AMA Treaty Alliance (AMATA), as a multi-stakeholder African alliance was instrumental in advocating for the ratification and implementation of the AMA Treaty, and the momentum this alliance has built will be shared as an example of how it can also be used for the meaningful engagement with patients and other Non-State Actors in all aspects of the Agency framework and development.

We will also discuss how the establishment of a framework of meaningful engagement with patients, industry, academia and civil society is essential to enable AMA to deliver on its mission.


e-Health Solutions for Africa: How can patients be more involved and engaged?

The 73rd WHO Africa RC will have two very pertinent agenda items:

  • Agenda Item 18.3 will reflect upon utilizing eHealth solutions to improve national health systems in the WHO African Region
  • Agenda Item 13 will address community engagement to strengthen community protection and resilience 2023–2030 in the WHO African Region 

In June 2018, in Benin, the African Union met to discuss maximising digital health technology to improve quality and patient safety in Africa. This pre-pandemic meeting highlighted that African health systems need to leap forward by applying e-health solutions such as e-learning, electronic health records, use of smart phones and smart watches, electronic medical prescriptions and artificial intelligence.

Post-pandemic, these health technologies have become even more vital for every patient. We must use the many existing digital technologies in improving access in Africa by raising awareness, training health care professionals and empowering patients and families.

The second part of the African Patients Village Side Event will discuss where we are with e-health in Africa and how it can advance equitable access in African health systems by having patients at the centre. 



  • Bisi Bright, Board Member, International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO)
  • Ellos Lodzeni, Vice-Chair, International Alliance of Patients' Organizations (IAPO)
  • Dr Michel Sidibé, African Union Special Envoy for the African Medicines Agency 
  • Chimwemwe Chamdimba, Head of Health Programme, African Union Development Agency, New Partnership for Africa's Development (AUDA-NEPAD)
  • David Fiagan, Afro Chairperson, International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) 
  • Greg Perry, Assistant Director General, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA)
  • John Gikonyo, NCD Alliance Kenya 
  • Dr Niraksha Jithoo, Global NCD COE Lead, Viatris
  • Dr Kagiso Ndlovu (PhD -Telemedicine), Senior Lecturer - eHealth Research Unit Coordinator, Department of Computer Science, University of Botswana
  • Eda Selebatso, Founder & Chairperson, Botswana Organisation for Rare Diseases (BORDIS)


Supported by

Viatris empowers people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life. We provide access to medicines, advance sustainable operations, develop innovative solutions and leverage our collective expertise to improve patient health.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) is the global association that represents over 40 research-based pharmaceutical companies and over 50 national and regional associations. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations. Their mission is to promote policies, dialogues and initiatives that encourage the development of and patient access to medicines and vaccines globally as part of sustainable healthcare systems.


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