The launch of the agency follows establishment of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiative back in 2009.
On Sunday, the African Union (AU) announced the East African country Rwanda will be home to the headquarters of the African Medicines Agency (AMA). The decision comes after a meeting of the continental body’s Executive Council during its Fourth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting held on 14 and 15 July in Lusaka, Zambia. Once established, the agency will join the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), which is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as the AU’s second specialized health agency. According to the AU, AMA will "enhance capacity of state parties and regional economic communities (REC) to regulate medical products, to improve Africa’s access to quality safe, and efficacious medical products." Rwanda beat other bidders such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe at winning the hosting.
Building onto lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic whereby the continent often found itself lagging its counterparts when it came to securing life-savings vaccines, the 55-member states are hoping the introduction of the agency will foster an enabling environment for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The introduction of the agency is expected to support the growth of the continent’s pharmaceutical sector, evaluate medical products for the treatment of priority diseases as determined by the continental body. It will also be responsible for regularly inspecting, coordinating and sharing information about medicinal products that are authorized for marketing. It is also expected to coordinate joint reviews of clinical trial applications for vaccines and assessment of “highly complex” product dossiers and coordinate joint inspections of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) manufacturing sites, among other functions.