Project General Description
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a regional economic community comprising twenty-one member countries, namely: Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The total population of the bloc is estimated at over 583 million people and its gross domestic product is estimated at USD 805 billion. The objective of COMESA was to create a large economic and trading bloc capable of overcoming the obstacles faced by individual states. The region's main strategy is to achieve economic prosperity through regional integration and to provide its members with the following benefits: (a) a larger, harmonized and more competitive market, (b) increased industrial productivity and competitiveness, (c) increased agricultural production and security, (d) harmonized monetary, banking and financial policies, (e) rational exploitation of natural resources, and (f) reliable transportation and communication infrastructure. To promote industrialization and structural transformation in the region, COMESA has developed a Regional Industrialization Policy (2015-2030) and an Industrial Strategy (2017-2026). The Industrial Strategy, anchored on the Industrial Policy, focuses on nine key priority areas, including pharmaceuticals. These focus areas will have the greatest impact on sustainable and inclusive economic growth to achieve structural transformation of the economies of COMESA member states. COMESA is also a member of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), which is an African Free Trade Agreement between COMESA-SADC-and the EAC. The TFTA promotes integration based on the developmental approach to regional integration, which rests on three pillars: market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development.
The overall objective of the project is to create a vibrant pharmaceutical industry in the region by strengthening the institutional capacity of pharmaceutical regulatory bodies, quality control and management systems, research and development institutions for effective manufacturing of safe and quality pharmaceuticals in the region.
Specific objectives include: i) Institutionalization and ownership of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa and the African Drug Regulatory Harmonization Program ii) Strengthening of drug and pharmaceutical regulatory agencies/institutions in the region iii) Capacity building of key stakeholders and support to trans-regional research and development programs.
The project is regional in scope, but specifically targets the 15 ADF countries in the COMESA region, with an estimated total population of 457 million people. It will directly benefit public institutions responsible for the development of the pharmaceutical industry in the region, including national drug regulatory authorities (NMRAs), quality control laboratories, regional pharmacy training institutions, universities and research institutes. The objective is to empower these institutions to support the pharmaceutical sector to produce locally safe essential medicines for the needs of populations, especially women and children, who share the same burden of disease in the region. Most of the countries in the region have a very underdeveloped and weak pharmaceutical industry. Currently, the region relies heavily on imports for most of its pharmaceutical needs. In addition, due to the weakness of local pharmaceutical manufacturing in the region, there is a prevalence of counterfeit drugs in circulation, which has more serious consequences for the welfare of the people of the region.