Most African countries have inadequate regulatory systems for regulating vaccines and blood and blood products, and this is a huge challenge especially during times of crisis or emergency. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) through its Global Health Program (GHP) is committed to strengthening national health systems in Africa and is partnering with NEPAD Agency, World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to advance this stream of work.
In collaboration with NEPAD Agency and WHO, PEI hosted a workshop from 6 to 8 December 2017 to enhance collaboration, exchange ideas, share best practices and identify strategies for strengthening existing regulatory systems in Africa. This approach will help to make a sustainable contribution to the African population’s health care systems and during crises. Experts from 17 African countries, Europe, Health Canada, and the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States (FDA CBER) attended the workshop.
A well-established and efficient health system with well-functioning regulatory structures is important especially during health threats. This was also shown by the outbreak of Ebola fever in 2017 that led to more than 11,000 deaths and more than 28,000 infected persons. One of the prerequisites for mitigating such emergency situations include putting in place efficient and experienced medicine regulatory authorities that assess and authorise clinical trials of new medicines and perform marketing authorisation for medicinal products in a timely manner. During the Ebola, too, the PEI became involved and made its contributions, so that a clinical trial with a vaccine candidate could take place.
During the workshop, common strategies for the harmonisation of regulatory structures and standards were discussed; especially how collaborations within Africa could be strengthened to be better prepared and to react quickly in cases of health crises.
“I am very pleased that so many colleagues from African countries accepted our invitation to join us at the PEI to discuss common aims and future activities. It is important for us to understand the challenges that our African colleagues are facing to identify together how our experience gained from the collaboration in Europe could help us support developments in Africa in a sustained manner”, said Dr Christoph Conrad, head of the module VaccTrain.
The PEI is the Federal Agency for Vaccines and Biomedicines and lends expertise to the GHP in order to contribute to better provision of blood and blood products and vaccines in African countries by ensuring intensive professional exchange, which is also taking place on site, and a strong network of specialized experts.