This week in the sunny city of Addis Ababa, we were pleased to take part in the Africa regional consultations on policy coherence for increasing access to and innovation in health technologies. This is a topic that is close to our hearts and integral to the goals of both the African Union Commission and the UNDP Regional Centre for Africa.

Improving access to affordable good quality medicines and other health technologies is essential for improving public health, a key development priority in African countries. But achieving this goal will require simultaneous action and coordination between several sectors in each country. Coherence and alignment needs to be established among policies and laws relating to investment, industrial policy, innovation and intellectual property rights.

This regional consultation meeting organized by UNDP, under the auspices of the Access and Delivery Partnership, brought together policy makers from 12 countries in the African region. These policy makers came from a range of agencies with responsibilities for health, innovation, trade and science and technology to raise awareness for the need for policy coherence. We believe that bringing together this diverse combination of agencies will help to promote better communication and collaboration at the national and regional levels.

At the meeting the participants discussed the various efforts that are already taking place at the continental, regional and national levels to foster local pharmaceutical production. They shared updates and progress on initiatives such as the African Union’s Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA) and Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Programme; the East Africa Community (EAC) Manufacturing Plan of Action; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan, as well as the linkages between these initiatives with national level efforts.

We are very pleased to observe that the approach taken by the Access and Delivery Partnership (ADP) complements these efforts. ADP seeks to develop national capacities to address the range of issues along the value chain of access and delivery – from raising awareness of the need for an enabling policy and legal environment, to developing capacity for decision-making on resource allocation for procurement of health technologies, assessing the needs and capacity of the domestic industry to meet the national demand, as well as the need for an efficient supply and delivery chain.

In other words, ADP takes a systemic approach to improve the decision-making capacity of countries to choose, develop and deliver health technologies that are suited to that particular country’s context. This approach is very much in line with the holistic approach taken by the AU Commission and UNDP Regional Centre for Africa.

We hope that this meeting will catalyze greater multi-sectoral actions at the national level and stronger collaborations at the regional and continental level among African countries to improve access to essential health technologies for citizens.

We thank the colleagues from UNDP in Bangkok, New York and Addis Ababa for their work in organizing this very important and fruitful meeting. We also acknowledge the Government of Japan’s support for the ADP.

*Dr.Marie-Goretti Harakeye is the Head of Division, Social Affairs Department at theAfrican Union Commission.

Lebogang Motlana is the Director of the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.