IAPO African regional meeting set for Uganda
By Joshua Wamboga, IAPO Chair-Elect
I am delighted that the Uganda Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (UAPO) will be co-hosting the key upcoming regional meeting for the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations' (IAPO) members in Africa. The meeting which will take place in Uganda, 4-5 July 2017, will bring together IAPO members, patient representatives and a range of stakeholders from over 10 different countries across Africa.
Through interactive capacity building and knowledge-sharing sessions, IAPO members and stakeholders will develop tools to ensure that the patient movement across the region is made up of strong patient advocates. The goal will be to prepare patient advocates to take on the challenges and opportunities arising from the increasing regulatory harmonisation across Africa over the next few years.
Harmonisation will ensure the availability of safe, good quality and reasonably priced medicines that have been a challenge for many African countries, by establishing new and strong evidence-based legal frameworks. As we know, many national medicines regulatory authorities (NMRAs) in Africa have a limited capacity to approve medicines in a timely manner and to ensure acceptable quality, safety and efficacy standards which directly impact on the care and medicines that patients in Africa can access.
Therefore, during the meeting, patients’ organizations across the region will be empowered to support the establishment and improvement of standards and requirements related to the regulation of and the access to safe and high-quality medicines for ourselves.
Harmonisation for Patient-centred Universal Health Coverage in Africa
Additionally, with the upcoming African Medicines Agency (AMA) due to be launched in 2018 as part of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiative (AMRH), now is the time that strong patient advocates need to be engaging in the plans to ensure that AMA is a patient-centred body working for the patients it is designed for right from the start.
In 2009, AMRH Initiative was established to guarantee and accelerate regulatory harmonisation in the African continent. The founding actors, which include the World Health Organization (WHO), the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the Pan African Parliament, the African Regional Economic Communities and Organizations (RECs) and the NMRAs, concluded that “now is the right time to push for regulatory harmonisation in Africa”.
Across the two-day workshop, we will explore how patients can become key actors in the AMA, and how we can advocate for sustainable patient engagement in the African harmonisation plans. We will discuss what is needed for patient representatives to be strong partners in the development of AMA and what we need from the founding stakeholders in return, to form strong and mutually beneficial partnerships. This is an opportunity not to be missed for patient organizations in Africa.