AfCFTA-anchored Pharma Initiative holds consultative meeting

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)’s led AfCFTA-anchored Pharmaceutical Initiative held a virtual induction meeting for the six (6) recently appointed National Pharmaceutical Consultants from 6 (six) of the 10 pilot countries (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles & Sudan), spread out over a 5-day period.

The induction focused on the three key pillars, namely, Pharmaceutical Pooled Procurement, Localized Pharmaceutical Production, Regulatory Harmonization as well as Partnership & Resource Mobilization and Communications, commencing with a general introduction to the project, a discussion on administrative procedures, as well as what is expected from the consultants.

The National consultants were welcomed by the Programme Management Office (PMO), Mr. Joseph Mthetwa, who introduced the purpose of the Induction meetings as being, to ensure that all consultants had a full understanding of their roles in the project and what was expected of them. The Consultants were taken through each of the pillars by the respective pillar leads, and held discussions to seek clarity in each of the sessions that were held.

The Project Lead, Ms. Jane Karonga in her remarks to the consultants, welcomed them on behalf of the Executive Secretary, D. Vera Songwe, the Director, Dr. Stephen Karingi, and the Chief of Section Mr. Francis Ikome.

She thanked them for their patience through the processes that they had to endure to arrive to this point. She stated that she was aware that there were still a lot of things to work on, but that there would be a lot of support going forward.

She stated that the purpose of this meeting was to formally welcome the consultants and discuss in general their workplans. She further advised that there would be follow-ups made individually to ensure that what was expected of them at country level was understood.

She further stated that she was aware that they had all been involved in the data collection for the Regulatory report, which was ongoing, and advised that there would be more questionnaires following on Pooled procurement and Manufacturing as well as with other Pillar leads including Communication and Partnerships.

Jane also informed the National Consultants that the respective consultants would be reaching out to them through the Programme Management Officer to ensure that they assist at the country level, because the project is now in the implementation phase and with them being on the ground, the expectation is that they will help guide the implementation processes, seeing as how they have a full understanding of the tone of their respective countries.

She said, « We are counting on your expertise, the fact that you have been chosen to work for us, know that we have confidence in you and we are looking forward to your adding value to the initiative, we know that at the country level you are our experts there, but we are also working as a team, so sometimes you will find that at times you cross cut to other countries.”

“This is because our objective at the end of the day is for all of us to deliver on the Pharma Initiative to showcase to member countries that we can do pooled procurement, to identify some of the gaps we have with the regulatory aspect and come up with some trainings, and to address those issues, things of standards, we are already working on that and we want to continue with the ratification of AMA and the implementation. So we are hoping to hear from you, we will learn from you as much as you learn from us.»