Tanzania: NEPAD joins AU in fight against Ebola

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - The NEPAD Agency of the African Union (AU) has said it is placing emphasis on mobilising African countries to put in place conducive and enabling environment for conducting clinical trials to test the candidate vaccines and other therapies against the Ebola virus.

The AU Commission said Monday that the interventions taken by the Agency in the fight against Ebola were a top priority at the NEPAD Steering Committee meeting on Sunday, on the sidelines of the 24th AU Summit being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week.

In a statement, the Commission said the interventions taken by the NEPAD Agency are part of the AU’s Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa (ASEOWA).

"The NEPAD Agency, through its African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) programme, is working with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and National Medicines Regulatory Agencies (NMRAs) to mobilise the required capacity for clinical trials oversight and ethical clearances," Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head and Adviser of NEPAD Science, Technology and Innovation Hub (NSTIH), told the Steering Committee meeting.

In his presentation to the Committee members, Prof. Ambali said most of the NMRAs and ethics committees were currently experiencing difficulties in providing ethics clearance and regulatory oversight on clinical trials conducted in the member states.

"For instance, there are several ethical and policy issues that need to be resolved in order to collect and transport whole blood and plasma from Ebola patients in the concerned countries," he said.

Through the support of the NEPAD Agency and the World Health Organization (WHO), the East African Community (EAC) is conducting a joint evaluation of a candidate Ebola vaccine which will be held on 2-4 Feb.

Targeted countries for the clinical trials are Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, while the joint evaluation will be carried out by all the five member states of the EAC, including Burundi and Rwanda.

The NEPAD Agency is also working with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to establish a regional experts working group on trials for Ebola Vaccine and other promising treatment options in order to accelerate their evaluation. The Working Group will be established early next month.

It is expected that the joint reviews in the two regions would not only fast-track the approval process for the vaccine trials but also serve as a mechanism for strengthening regulatory systems and ethical standards in Africa.

Clinical trials for two candidate Ebola vaccines are currently underway in West Africa and there are several more in the pipeline, the AUC said.

NEPAD’s AMRH programme sets and improves standards and requirements for regulation and access to quality and safe drugs for African citizens.

Key interventions include the harmonisation of medicines regulations among RECs as well as policy and regulatory reforms.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 26Jan2015

26 january 2015 12:08:45

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