The United Republic of Tanzania becomes the twenty second (22nd) African Union (AU) Member State to sign the Treaty for the establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) on 10 August 2021, at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. H.E. Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, received H.E. Liberata Mulamula, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Republic Tanzania.
H.E. Dr Monique Nsanzabaganwa noted that Tanzania has been a key leader in supporting the efforts of the Commission and the East African Community, in the harmonization of regulatory policies, under the African Medicines Harmonization Initiative, being led by the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). “The current pandemic has reinforced the need for the continent to have very strong continental health institutions and the AMA working in tandem with the African CDC will be the key to collectively address the continental health challenges,” she added. She encouraged Tanzania to move to the next step of ratifying the Treaty for the establishment of AMA.
H.E. Liberata Mulamula, stated that the establishment of the AMA Agency is very timely particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “The United Republic of Tanzania was determined to sign the Treaty establishing AMA in order to mitigate the challenge of combating falsified medical products at regional level,” H.E Mulamula further encouraged the other Member States that have not signed the Treaty to do so at the earliest.
The United Republic of Tanzania has demonstrated her commitment to guarantee quality-assured, safe and efficacious medical products that are fundamental to the health and safety of her people and Africa as a whole.
The AMA Treaty was adopted by Heads of States and Government during their 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly on 11 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The African Medicines Agency aspires to provide support for the improvement of weak regulatory systems. AMA shall build on the efforts of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) initiative (2009), which is led by the Africa Union Development Agency – the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD). The AMRH inititiave provides guidance to AU recognized Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Health Organizations (RHOs), to facilitate harmonization of regulatory requirements and practice among the national medicines authorities (NMRAs) of the AU Member States.
AMA will be the second specialized health agency of the African Union after the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The agency will among other functions coordinate and collaborate, where required and on a regular basis, the inspection of drug manufacturing sites, including the regulatory oversight and safety monitoring of medical products, as determined by State Parties and/or the AMA, and make reports available to the State Parties. AMA will also promote cooperation, partnership and recognition of regulatory decisions, in support of regional structures and National medicines regulatory authorities (NMRAs), that takes into account mobilization of financial and technical resources to ensure sustainability of the AMA.
The Agency will further convene, in collaboration with the WHO, the African Medicines Regulators Conference (AMRC) and other bodies, meetings related to medical products regulation in Africa. In addition, AMA will provide regulatory guidance, scientific opinions and a common framework for regulatory actions on medical products, as well as priority and emerging issues and pandemics in the event of a public health emergency on the continent with cross border or regional implications where new medical products are to be deployed for investigations and clinical trials.
Fifteen (15) member states have ratified the AMA Treaty. The AMA Treaty will enter into Force 30 days upon the deposit of the 15th instrument of ratification at the Commission.The African Union Commission encourages all its Member States to sign and ratify the Treaty for the establishment of AMA in the interest of public health, safety and security. The Treaty is available for signature at the Headquarters of the Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
King Mohammed VI of Morocco launches Pan-African Giant Vaccine Production Plant
Morocco is getting ready to produce its own vaccines. In Benslimane, King Mohammed VI kicked off on Thursday 27th of January the construction of a giant factory to manufacture Covid-19 and other vaccines.
With 3 industrial lines and a combined production capacity that will reach 116 million units in 2024, the Cherifian Kingdom is taking a giant step towards health and vaccine sovereignty.
Ensuring the country’s self-sufficiency in vaccines and making it a leading biotechnology platform on the African continent and the world is the objective of this industrial unit, called “SENSYO Pharmatech”.
The challenge of this project, which will cost 500 million euros, is to transform the country into an essential biotechnology hub in Africa, capable of meeting the continent’s health needs in the short and long term, by integrating pharmaceutical research, clinical development, and the manufacture and marketing of essential biopharmaceutical products.
Through a massive transfer of know-how, the country will position itself, within the next 5 years, as the continent’s catalyst in research, development and production of advanced biopharmaceutical products.
Morocco is now shifting gears. From 2025, the country will be able to produce more than 2 billion doses of vaccines, with the support of one of the world leaders in biotechnology and the “Fill & Finish” industry, Swedish company Recipharm.
The project will be divided into 3 stages: The first phase involves the production launch of trial batches from 30 July 2022. The second phase, which will start in parallel with the first, will involve the transfer of the aseptic filling and active substance manufacturing of more than 20 vaccines and bio-therapeutic products, including 3 Covid-19 vaccines. Morocco thus aims to cover, by 2025, more than 70% of the Kingdom’s needs and more than 60% of those of the Continent.
The last step consists in creating, by 2030, an African biopharmaceutical and vaccine innovation cluster in Morocco, recognised worldwide, within the framework of a partnership between major international players in the fields of research and development of advanced technologies in vaccines and bio-therapeutic products and all the Moroccan supervisory institutions, in particular the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Finance.
This announcement follows the signing of the agreements to launch the project to manufacture and syringe the anti-Covid19 vaccine and other vaccines, which was presided over on Monday 5 July by King Mohammed VI at the Royal Palace in Fez.
For the record, Morocco is at the top of the African podium in terms of vaccination, with more than 23 million people fully vaccinated to date. This is the largest vaccination campaign in Africa. Having understood for a long time that collective immunity is the only way out of the health crisis, the country launched a fierce battle around the vaccine very early on, by actively participating in the clinical trials.
Bringing dry land in the Sahel back to life
Millions of hectares of farmland are lost to the desert each year in Africa’s Sahel region, but the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is showing that traditional knowledge, combined with the latest technology, can turn arid ground back into fertile soil.
Those trying to grow crops in the Sahel region are often faced with poor soil, erratic rainfail and long periods of drought. However, the introduction of a state-of-the art heavy digger, the Delfino plough, is proving to be, literally, a breakthrough.
As part of its Action Against Desertification (AAD) programme, the FAO has brought the Delfino to four countries in the Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal – to cut through impacted, bone-dry soil to a depth of more than half a metre.
The Delfino plough is extremely efficient: one hundred farmers digging irrigation ditches by hand can cover a hectare a day, but when the Delfino is hooked to a tractor, it can cover 15 to 20 hectares in a day.
Once an area is ploughed, the seeds of woody and herbaceous native species are then sown directly, and inoculated seedlings planted. These species are very resilient and work well in degraded land, providing vegetation cover and improving the productivity of previously barren lands.
In Burkina Faso and Niger, the target number of hectares for immediate restoration has already been met and extended thanks to the Delfino plough. In Nigeria and Senegal, it is working to scale up the restoration of degraded land.
Farming seen through a half-moon lens
This technology, whilst impressive, is proving to be successful because it is being used in tandem with traditional farming techniques.
“In the end the Delfino is just a plough. A very good and suitable plough, but a plough all the same,” says Moctar Sacande, Coordinator of FAO’s Action Against Desertification programme. “It is when we use it appropriately and in consultation and cooperation that we see such progress.”
The half-moon is a traditional Sahel planting method which creates contours to stop rainwater runoff, improving water infiltration and keeping the soil moist for longer. This creates favourable micro-climate conditions allowing seeds and seedlings to flourish.
The Delfino creates large half-moon catchments ready for planting seeds and seedlings, boosting rainwater harvesting tenfold and making soil more permeable for planting than the traditional – and backbreaking – method of digging by hand.
“The whole community is involved and has benefitted from fodder crops such as hay as high as their knees within just two years”, says Mr. Sacande. “They can feed their livestock and sell the surplus, and move on to gathering products such as edible fruits, natural oils for soaps, wild honey and plants for traditional medicine”.
Women taking the lead
According to Nora Berrahmouni, who was FAO’s Senior Forestry Officer for the African Regional Office when the Delfino was deployed, the plough will also reduce the burden on women.
“The season for the very hard work of hand-digging the half-moon irrigation dams comes when the men of the community have had to move with the animals. So, the work falls on the women,” says Ms. Berrahmouni.
Because the Delfino plough significantly speeds up the ploughing process and reduces the physical labour needed, it gives women extra time to manage their multitude of other tasks.
The project also aims to boost women’s participation in local land restoration on a bigger scale, offering them leadership roles through the village committees that plan the work of restoring land. Under the AAD programme, each site selected for restoration is encouraged to set up a village committee to manage the resources, so as to take ownership right from the beginning.
“Many women are running the local village committees which organise these activities and they are telling us they feel more empowered and respected,” offers Mr. Sacande.
Respecting local knowledge and traditional skills is another key to success. Communities have long understood that half-moon dams are the best way of harvesting rainwater for the long dry season. The mighty Delfino is just making the job more efficient and less physically demanding.
Millions of hectares lost to the desert, forests under threat
And it is urgent that progress is made. Land loss is a driver of many other problems such as hunger, poverty, unemployment, forced migration, conflict and an increased risk of extreme weather events related to climate change.
In Burkina Faso, for example, a third of the landscape is degraded. This means that over nine million hectares of land, once used for agriculture, is no longer viable for farming.
It is projected that degradation will continue to expand at 360 000 hectares per year. If the situation is not reversed, forests are at risk of being cleared to make way for productive agricultural land.
Africa is currently losing four million hectares of forest every year for this reason, yet has more than 700 million hectares of degraded land viable for restoration. By bringing degraded land back to life, farmers do not have to clear additional forest land to turn into cropland for Africa’s rising population and growing food demands.
When Mr. Sacande talks about restoring land in Africa, the passion in his voice is evident. “Restoring degraded land back to productive good health is a huge opportunity for Africa. It brings big social and economic benefits to rural farming communities,” he says. “It’s a bulwark against climate change and it brings technology to enhance traditional knowledge.”
A version of this story first appeared on the FAO website.
South Africa’s Covid-19 Response Gets a $750 Million Boost
The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors today approved South Africa’s request for a $750 million development policy loan (DPL). This loan will support the Government of South Africa’s efforts to accelerate its COVID-19 response aimed at protecting the poor and vulnerable from the adverse socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and supporting a resilient and sustainable economic recovery.
The DPL supports the implementation of South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) and is well aligned with the World Bank’s Crisis Response Approach aimed at protecting lives, livelihoods and supporting a more inclusive and resilient growth path. It reflects priorities to modernize the country’s social protection and health services and to improve delivery systems which will apply even beyond the pandemic. It also enhances financial sector stability, specifically the establishment of a deposit insurance scheme. It further supports South Africa’s commitment to climate change.
“The World Bank budget support is coming at a critical time for us and will contribute towards addressing the financing gap stemming from additional spending in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” says Dondo Mogajane, Director General of National Treasury of South Africa. “It will assist in addressing the immediate challenge of financing critical health and social safety net programs whilst also continuing to develop our economic reform agenda to build back better.”
The funding is a low interest loan that contributes to the government’s fiscal relief package while reinforcing South Africa’s decisions on how best to provide relief to the economy and those worst affected by the current crisis. The loan complements support by the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, and the New Development Bank as part of the Government of South Africa’s broader financing strategy to access external financing from international financial institutions.
“With this DPL, we have partnered with the government to provide much needed relief from the impacts of the most serious economic crisis South Africa has experienced in the past 90 years, while tackling long-standing challenges to growth and development. This support aims to put the country on a more resilient and inclusive growth path by leveraging South Africa’s strength to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 crisis through their strong social safety net and by advancing critical economic reforms,” says Marie Françoise Marie Nelly, World Bank Country Director for South Africa. “This financing builds on our new World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework (CPF) 2022 – 2026, jointly developed with the government in July 2021, to help stimulate investment and job creation.”
As the second largest economy in Africa, South Africa’s economic performance has spillover effects on other countries in the region. Its recovery and successful economic development will provide an economic boost to the whole region.
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