Comparison of Three Regional Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiatives in Africa: Opportunities for Improvement and Alignment

Document Type : Original Article


1 School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK

2 African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), Johannesburg, South Africa

3 Food and Drug Authority Ghana, Accra, Ghana

4 Centre for Innovation in Regulatory Science, London, UK

5 Institute for Medicines Development, Hatfield, UK


The African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) Initiative was formed in 2009 and subsequently, three regional initiatives (East African Community Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation [MRH], Southern African Development Community [SADC]/ZaZiBoNa MRH, and the Economic Community of West Africa States MRH) were established. As these initiatives serve as a foundation for the African Medicines Agency (AMA), the aim of this study was to compare their operating models, successes and challenges to identify opportunities for improvement and alignment.
A mixed method approach was used for the data collection using a questionnaire, the Process, Effectiveness and Efficiency Rating (PEER), developed by the authors specifically for this study and semi-structured interview techniques. There were 23 study participants (one from each agency of the member countries of the three regions). It was hoped that data generated from this study would lead to a series of recommendations, which would then be ratified by the regulatory authorities.
Most respondents stated that AMRH contributed to the strengthening of regulatory systems and harmonising regulatory requirements across economic regions of Africa, potentially resulting in improved access to quality-assured medicines. Although established at different times and at the discretion of each region, the marketing authorisation application review processes are largely similar, with a few differences noted in the eligibility and submission requirements, type of procedures employed, the timelines and fees payable. The challenges identified in the three regions are also similar, with the most noteworthy being the lack of a binding legal framework for regional approvals.
In this study, we compared the process, successes and challenges of these three regional harmonisation initiatives in Africa addressing the areas of legal frameworks, information management systems, the accessibility and affordability of medicines and reliance that will bring greater alignment and efficiency in their operating models, thereby strengthening the foundation of the soon-to-be-operationalised AMA.


Articles in Press, Corrected Proof
Available Online from 09 April 2024
  • Receive Date: 07 April 2023
  • Revise Date: 26 February 2024
  • Accept Date: 08 April 2024
  • First Publish Date: 09 April 2024