21 July 2023
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and WHO convened a regional meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from 6-7 July that brought together the heads of the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) of Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Co-organized by the WHO Regulation and Safety Unit and the Global Fund’s High Impact Africa 2 Department, the regional consultation was convened as a forum to foster dialogue, collaboration and share best practices with a view to optimizing Global Fund investments and ensuring that national key priorities are adequately supported and aligned with the WHO Global Benchmarking Tool for evaluation of national regulatory systems.
Efficient and effective national and regional regulatory systems are essential to any resilient health system and a critical assurance mechanism for health products. They are also central to achieving the core mission of the Global Fund, by ensuring that Global Fund-funded health products maintain quality, safety and efficacy from every stage of the supply chain to the end user. A weak regulatory capacity can directly impact patient outcomes. With the proliferation of substandard and falsified medical products, and the fast-changing landscape of new health technologies entering the market, including innovative diagnostic devices, the role of NRAs has become even more important.
In partnership with WHO, which provides guidance to countries to achieve a robust regulatory system and core regulatory functions through the Regulatory Systems Strengthening (RSS) Programme, the Global Fund has continuously supported countries to strengthen their technical, institutional, and financial capacities to regulate their health products market.
“Engaging directly with the national regulatory authorities provides an opportunity to work together to strengthen systems,” said Linden Morrison, Head of High Impact Africa 2 Department. “Although they are highly strategic, these entities sit far from our Principal Recipients. NRAs are independent from disease programs, hence the necessity to increase dialogue so they can learn more about our funding activities in their countries and benefit from it to address their strategic priorities.”
During the 2-day gathering, delegations from the Global Fund and NRAs from the High Impact Africa 2 region also visited Swissmedic, the Swiss NRA, headquartered in Bern, Switzerland. In exchanging views with Mr. Reimund Bruhin, Executive Director of Swissmedic, and the Swissmedic leadership team, the group had the chance to learn more about best practices in pharmaceuticals and health technologies regulation in Switzerland and explore potential collaborative opportunities. “This was an extremely valuable visit,” said Boitumelo Semete, Head of Sahpra, the South African NRA. “It was refreshing to see how open and willing Swissmedic is to engage and to support. Having this personal interaction was very helpful.”
Switzerland has been a strong supporter of the Global Fund since the partnership was founded in 2002, with a cumulative contribution of US$314 million to date. Switzerland’s leadership and funding have been instrumental to helping low- and middle-income countries strengthen health and community systems and accelerate the delivery of integrated, people-centered health care services.