On 14 July 2015, His Excellency, Mr Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, launched an ambitious 10-year national strategy and plan of action to develop local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in order to increase access to locally manufactured, quality-assured, medicines. The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the European Union Commission, provided technical assistance to the Government of Ethiopia in the development of this strategy, the first of its kind in the country. The launch took place at a high-level event organized in Addis Ababa, during the third Financing for Development Conference.
Dr Kesetebirhan Admasu, Ethiopia Minister of Health, welcomed participants at the launching highlighting, “The new strategic plan will not only improve access to essential medicine, but will also contribute to building a knowledge economy, harnessing research and development…., exerting a positive pressure on the country’s educational system.”
“Access to medicines is an integral component of universal health coverage,” said WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan. Dr Chan invited all development partners to join WHO in supporting the implementation of this strategic action plan over the next 10 years.
African Union Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, commended the Ethiopian government for launching this strategy, which is a translation of the African Union Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa at country level.
At the event Dr Mustapha Kaloko, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, presented the African Union Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan of Action for Africa, which envisions an “African people with access to essential, quality, safe and effective medical products and technologies.”
Prof Tsige Gebremariam of Addis Ababa University School of Pharmacy, while presenting an overview of the National Strategy and Plan of Action for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Development in Ethiopia (2015-2025) pointed out the seven key objectives of this ambitious plan. The Strategy and Plan of Action aims to:
• Improve access to medicines through quality local production – implementing GMP roadmap
• Strengthen the national medicines regulatory system
• Create incentives designed to move companies along the value chain
• Develop human resources through relevant education and training
• Encourage cluster development and production of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)
• Create a research and development platform
• Attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the pharmaceutical sector
The Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, at the launch of the national strategy, emphasized that “This national strategy and plan of action will contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth and social development,” and called on all partners present and beyond to strengthen partnerships to support the Ethiopian efforts to significantly reduce poverty and become a middle income country by 2025.
Ethiopia’s increased investment in the health sector in recent years has resulted in an impressive 95% potential health coverage. The health indicators have remarkably improved towards achieving the health-related MDGs.
WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan, UNOPS Executive Director Ms. Grete Faremo, GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley, World Bank Senior Director of Health, Nutrition and Population Dr Timorthy Grant Evans, Global Fund Against AIDS, TB and Malaria Executive Director Mr Mark Dybul, African Development Bank Vice President Mr Steve Kayizi Mugerwa, UNIDO Director General Mr LI Yong, UNDP Administrator Mrs Helen Clark, UNFPA Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ms Yoka Brandt, US Ambassador Ms Patricia M Haslach, India Ambassador Mr Sanjay Verma, Brazil Ambassador Mrs Isabel Cristina de Azevedo Heyvaert, and Cuba Ambassador Mr Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta commended the Government of Ethiopia for developing such a comprehensive national strategy and plan of action, which is indeed a visionary programme of action. If implemented from a value chain perspective, and with commitment to ensure sustainability – by making the required investments and forging strategic partnerships – it could transform the pharmaceutical sector in the country over the next 10 years, and inspire change in Africa.