KIGALI, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- African countries should support and advocate for a treaty establishing African Medicines Agency to safeguard health of African people, experts and policymakers said Monday in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda.
African health ministers unanimously adopted the draft treaty for the establishment of a single continental body African Medicines Agency for the regulation of medicines and medical products at the 71st Session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May, according to the African Union (AU).
Once finalized, the treaty will be presented to AU heads of state and government for endorsement in January 2019, said the AU.
It is now for African countries to push the initiative further and make it a reality, said Rwandan minister of health Diane Gashumba at the launch of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization initiative week.
The establishment of African Medicines Agency would save the continent from challenges of dealing with sub-standard pharmaceutical products in Africa, she said.
"Sub-standard and counterfeit drugs continue to flood African markets causing health hazards," said Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda, head of health programs at the African Union (AU)'s New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the pan-African strategic framework for the socio-economic development of the continent.
"It's for our own good as Africans to establish African Medicines Agency as a continental regulatory agency that will help address this challenge," said the NEPAD official.
Setting up a regulatory body that would oversee the regulation of medicines and medical products on the continent, both manufactured and imported is key to improve health access and delivery in Africa, she said.
The African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization initiative was created by NEPAD to assist African countries and regions to respond to the challenges posed by medicines registration.
The initiative's week seeks to highlight the current status of the African medicines regulatory harmonization and review its strategy.