The Republic of Zambia is honoured to make the statement on behalf of 47 Africa Member States on agenda item 11.5.
We note how the limited access to quality and affordable medicines and vaccines continues to impede progress towards Universal Health Coverage and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Africa Region therefore, supports the prioritization of investment in areas which will lead to achievable and sustainable improvements in access to medicines and vaccines. We suggest the development of a pharmaceutical framework that would enable pooled procurement to facilitate benefit from economies of scale.
In addition, political will at all levels is important to ensure affordability and availability of quality, safe, and effective medical products through regulatory and policy implementation, particularly, pricing and financing that will encourage fair pricing and domestic investment. This is particularly important for LMIC given that they are the last to have access to new medicines.
Less effective, substandard and counterfeit products waste resources and cost countless lives. Even so, the regulatory systems in most African countries still require strengthening and the risk posed by substandard and falsified medical products is very real in the Africa Region, which is currently leading in reporting to the WHO rapid alert system. Therefore, we call upon the Secretariat to support the African Union’s effort to establish the African Medicines Agency (AMA).
We acknowledge the inclusion of other health technologies such as diagnostics and assistive technologies for enhanced screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and even palliative care, as highlighted in paragraph 6 of the report. However we note that the Africa Region is yet to fully utilize the TRIPS flexibilities as most diagnostics and assistive technologies are still under patent and these are significantly more expensive.
The Africa Region Member States welcome the priority on building capacity for proper implementation of Intellectual Property laws that are in line with the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This is important because whereas some countries like Zambia, for instance, have enacted laws they have not been used to address access to medicines and vaccines.
We welcome the emphasis on research as well as the need for quality and readily available data on the different issues regarding medicines and vaccines. However, there is need to develop priority areas of research focusing on those that are most promising, in view of limited resources.
It is noted that progress has been made in implementing the resolution on shortages of medicines and vaccines; and how it would form the basis to be used in designing a global reporting system for shortages and stock outs of essential medicines. We look forward to the report.
We wish to suggest that in future, the agenda item on access to medicines should not be linked to the agenda on shortage of medicines because the two are not related and can result in a skewed discussion towards access to medicines as has been noted in this report.`
Lastly, as Member States of the Africa Region, we support the adoption of decision EB142(3), and urge the Assembly to adopt it.