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Uganda bids to host Africa drugs agency

Friday March 18 2022
President Museveni

Ugandan President Museveni meets members lobbying to host the African Medicine Agency at State House, Entebbe, on March 17, 2022. PHOTO | PPU

By DAILY MONITOR

Uganda has the required capacity to host the African Medicine Agency (AMA) following its investments in developing and manufacturing drugs over the years, President Yoweri Museveni has said.

According to the President, the country already has experience in making HIV/Aids drugs for the last 10 years under Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited.

“For us, we are moving on with what we call the pathogenic economy. The issue is whether Africa will move with us. We started long time ago with Aids drugs. Why should foreigners make money out of our sicknesses and not us?” he posed.

The President was meeting a team from the African Union at State House Entebbe on Thursday, which was on a verification mission of countries bidding to host the AMA headquarters.

Uganda is among the eight countries seeking to host the continental regulatory agency. They are Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. 

AMA will provide a streamlined regulatory authority to improve quality medicines access and combat substandard imports in the continent.

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Mr Museveni said Uganda has invested heavily in the medical sector, with more infrastructure coming up given its history with pandemics such as HIV/Aids, Ebola, Marburg and now coronavirus.

“We have dealt with all these epidemics, and now our people have the capacity. They are highly educated and qualified human resources. Uganda is now at stage six in two of the vaccine developments. We are moving, and we shall continue moving,” he said.

President Museveni called for Africa to work in a more collaborative way to produce a vaccine.

“We are already in advanced stage in what we are doing. For example, the Uganda Virus Institute was actually the one, which worked on the vaccine for Ebola. We would want our brothers to work with us... if one produces this reagent, others can produce a different one. There are also special mice, which are used in experiments, which need to be worked on. We can work in a collaborative way depending on who can do what is best. East Africa should work as a team because it’s a big effort,” he said.

Prof Aggrey John Douglas Ambali led the AU team from the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

According to Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary in Uganda’s Ministry of Health, the AU delegation, which arrived in the country on Wednesday, opened the bid for Uganda and is now verifying documents.

Background

On November 1, 2021, Uganda became the 26th AU member state to sign the treaty to establish African Medicines Agency (AMA) at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa.

AMA aspires to enhance the capacity of state parties and AU recognised Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to regulate medical products to improve access to quality, safe and efficacious medical products on the continent. 

AMA will be the second specialised health agency of the African Union after the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

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