European Union, Gates Foundation collaborate to boost Africa’s drugs and vaccine production.

The European Union and the Gates Foundation are set to announce financial support for nascent efforts to set up an African medicines regulator to boost the continent’s drugs and vaccine production.

The treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency (AMA) came into force in November, but the agency currently exists only on paper.

So far just over half of the 55 African Union (AU) member states have ratified the treaty setting up the AMA. The European Medicines Agency, which is as yet the only continent-wide drugs regulator, will “provide technical assistance to African counterparts via scientific collaboration, joint inspections, training, and notably the AMA,” the document says.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged African countries to back efforts to set up the regulator as it could help fight counterfeit or poor-quality drugs.

“I believe that this institution will be very, very important for the continent,” he said in Cape Town. “I would like… to (appeal) to all countries who haven’t ratified to ratify and speed up the establishment (of AMA).”

The race to establish the AMA comes after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the region’s dependence on imported vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.

Just over 5% of medicines, and 1% of vaccines, consumed by the population of 1.2 billion people are produced locally.

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