from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE is eager to ratify the African Medicines Agency (AMA), following the extensive adoption of traditional herbs in fighting the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the need to have affordable medicines locally.
The country also wants to bid to host the agency.
Legislators as well want research on traditional medicine to be done and it be included in the education curriculum.
“Today we have a COVID -19 and we survived from plants which were provided by God such as zumbani and so on. These traditional medicines should be readily available in supermarkets,” said Member of Parliament for Highfield in Harare, Idah Mashonganyika.
This was after Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, moved a motion in Parliament recently to get the August House’s nod to ratify AMA.
The African Union (AU) executive council in 2019 resolved to establish AMA as a specialized agency with its own rules, membership and resources in order to improve access to quality, safe and efficacious medical products on the continent.
Section 327 (2) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that any Convention, Treaty or Agreement acceded to, shall be subject to approval by Parliament.
“We are desirous to do that and that is the reason why we are bringing these proceedings before the House to ensure that Parliament agrees to the ratification of the African Medicines Agency,” Ziyambi said.
“It is a very good treaty that will help us as a continent to be able to promote our own traditional medical products, develop and use them. Our view is that this is a very important treaty and as a Parliament we must ratify it so that we can deposit the instruments of ratification.”
Africa’s population is estimated at 1,2 billion.
The continent has a high burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Africa has a significant market for medicines and is exposed to counterfeit drugs.
Regulation will be critical in protecting the whole population from fake drugs and it is envisaged that free trade in the continent will necessitate development of localized medicines.
A continental agency will contribute to improved regulation of medicines and medicinal products.
The idea of a continental medicinal agency was first discussed in 2014 in Luanda, Angola when African health ministers requested member states to prioritise investment for regulatory capacity development, pursue efforts towards convergence and harmonization of medical products regulation and allocated adequate resources.
Dr Ruth Labode, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, said Zimbabwe stands to benefit from AMA.
She said countries like India have a cutting edge in the health services because of mass production of medicines which are resultantly cheaper.
“I fail to understand why it has taken us so long to make that decision because Zimbabwe can benefit from it. Obviously, we cannot isolate ourselves as if we are a big manufacturing company to be able to compete in the world, especially in Africa for exports of drugs,” Labode said.
– CAJ News