A new Bill that will see access to essential medicines and promotion of the local pharmaceutical industry is set to be introduced. The Assembly on Thursday granted EALA Member, Francine Rutazana, leave to introduce the Bill entitled the East African Community (EAC) Pharmaceuticals Bill, 2019.
The Bill shall among other things, aims to promote and boost medicines and pharmaceuticals produced in the EAC region, regulate good manufacturing practices and quality standards and ensure the mutual recognition of registration of medicines.
At the same time, the Bill seeks to promote preference for pharmaceuticals produced in the Community during the public procurement processes and for related matters. The Bill also seeks to designate the national pharmaceutical authority in Partner States that shall be responsible for the pharmaceutical matters provided for under the Act.
Rutazana moved a motion under Article 49 (1) and 59(1) of the Treaty and Rule 26 of the Rules of Procedure.
The mover avers that reliable access to affordable and quality assured medicines in East Africa remains a huge challenge since most of the medicines in the Community are still paid for directly by citizens through out of pocket models. It is anticipated that one of the ways by which the Community can both improve availability of essential medicines and their quality, is to promote and support local production of essential medicines required by the Community.
The motion notes that discrepancies in the registration procedures for essential medicines still exist and remain a great challenge as currently provided for by the national health policies and regulations in the Partner States.
Despite the challenges, it is also stated that the Community has not established favourable policies for the local produces or in their adequate promotion to enable them to effectively compete with imported drugs.
Contributing to the motion, Hon Gai Deng said ensuring access to medication was a key objective for sustainable development. She remarked that despite huge advances in Universal Health Access, there was still major discrepancies with regards to regulation, and access. “The motion is timely, given the need to strengthen the implementation of the roadmap by the EAC Secretariat”, Hon Deng said.
On her part, Hon Amb Fatuma Ndangiza, termed the Bill timely saying the promotion of access to medicines would enable the EAC populace to be healthy. She lauded the need for providing preferential treatment to local pharmaceuticals saying that currently, only 30% of the market demand was satisfied by the local production.
“We are losing out on jobs and employment opportunities and industrialization can be boosted by enhancing local production”, Hon Ndangiza said. The legislator also called for enhancing of the regulatory framework to ensure its realization.
Other Members who supported the formulation of the Bill were Hon Dr Woda Jeremiah Odok, Hon Abdikadir Aden, Hon Dr Gabriel Alaak.