(2007; 23 pages)
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) was formally launched on 17th August 2002 under a Treaty, and consists of 14 Member States with an estimated total population of 200 million people. In its programmes and operations, SADC is guided by a clear mission statement, which is "To promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient productive systems, deeper co-operation and integration, good governance, and durable peace and security, so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy".
It is worth noting that SADC's integration agenda accords priority to social and human development including fostering of cooperation in addressing health challenges which are reflected in the high burden of both communicable such as HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and non-communicable diseases which include diabetes, hypertension and cancer. In order to address these challenges, the region has adopted a collective approach and identified health as one of the priority areas in its regional cooperation and integration agenda. To this end, a SADC Health Programme was developed in 1997. The region also prioritized the development of a Protocol on health matters as this was seen as critical for enhancing regional integration within a legally enforceable framework. Three key policy documents have been developed to underpin the implementation of the Programme, namely: Health Policy Framework, SADC Protocol on Health and the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). The SADC Health Programme has been developed taking into account global and regional health declarations and targets.
SADC has identified the need to develop and implement a Pharmaceutical Programme in line with the SADC Health Protocol and the SADC Health Policy. The purpose of the programme is to enhance the capacities of Member States to effectively prevent and treat diseases that are of major concern to public health in the Region. The Programme mainly addresses issues that concern access to quality medicines in all Member States. The SADC Pharmaceutical Business Plan has been developed within the context of global, continental and regional policy frameworks, protocols and commitments. Based on a SWOT analysis, the Plan identifies priority areas, objectives and major activities that will be implemented both at regional and national levels to improve access to quality and affordable essential medicines including African Traditional Medicines.
The overall goal of the SADC Pharmaceutical Business Plan is to ensure availability of essential medicines including African Traditional Medicines to reduce disease burden in the region. Its main objective is to improve sustainable availability and access to affordable, quality, safe, efficacious essential medicines including African Traditional Medicines. In order to achieve the overall goal and the main objective, the following strategies will be pursued:
i). Harmonizing standard treatment guidelines and essential medicine lists;
ii). Rationalizing and maximizing the research and production capacity of local and regional pharmaceutical industry of generic essential medicines and African Traditional Medicines;
iii). Strengthening regulatory capacity, supply and distribution of basic pharmaceutical products through ensuring a fully functional regulatory authority with an adequate enforcement infrastructure;
iv). Promoting joint procurement of therapeutically beneficial medicines of acceptable safety, proven efficacy and quality to the people who need them most at affordable prices;
v). Establishing a regional databank of traditional medicine, medicinal plants and procedures in order to ensure their protection in accordance with regimes and related intellectual property rights governing genetic resources, plant varieties and biotechnology;
vi). Developing and retaining competent human resources for the pharmaceutical programme;
vii). Developing mechanisms to respond to emergency pharmaceutical needs of the region; and
viii). Facilitate the trade in pharmaceuticals within SADC.
In line with the SADC Protocol on Health, the Implementation Plan for the Protocol and the SADC Health Policy Framework, the SADC Pharmaceutical Business Plan will be coordinated and implemented through the approved SADC structure. The Business Plan has spelt out clear roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders that will be involved in the implementation process. At the political level, the implementation of the Plan will be monitored through the established institutional framework.
The implementation of the Plan will require substantial resources including human, material and financial from different sources. The Plan is estimated to cost US$16 million. To ensure ownership and sustainability, Member States will be required to budget for implementation of some of the interventions that need ongoing financial support. The SADC Secretariat will make all efforts to mobilize resources from key stakeholders including International Co-operating Partners.
A monitoring and evaluation framework has been included in order to review activities during implementation process. The Secretariat will facilitate capacity building on monitoring and evaluation. Appropriate technical and financial reports will be produced during and after implementation of program specific activities outlined in the Pharmaceutical Business Plan.