Professor Yousuf Vawda.

UKZN Public law academic leader, Professor Yousuf Vawda, presented a paper on the Role of Medicines Regulation in Access and Innovation for Health Technologies at the recent African Regional Meeting on Promoting Policy Coherence for Health Technologies held in Addis Ababa, Ethopia.

The three-day meeting was attended by about 100 participants representing 12 African countries, the African Union Commission, and more than a dozen Non-Governmental Organisations and service organisations.

The aim of the meeting was to inform participants about the value of policy coherence and coordination across national, regional and international levels. This is in respect of legislation and policy making affecting access to and innovation in health technologies.

The programme covered a wide range of issues, including:

  • Challenges and opportunities in respect of access and innovation
  • Local production of health technologies in Africa
  • Approaches to strengthened medicines regulation
  • Linkage between intellectual property protection and public health
  • Policy pathways for aligning public health and industrial policy at national level

Vawda said the presentation was part of the School’s goal to extend its reach into issues affecting the continent and, in the process, solidifying UKZN’s Africa-centred focus.

‘I argued that regulation needed to transcend the “defensive” function of ensuring safety, quality and efficacy of health technologies, to a more proactive function of encouraging access and innovation, given Africa’s disproportionate burden of disease and a concomitant lack of affordable access to relevant treatments,’ he said.

Vawda also chaired a session on regional approaches to integrating health research and development in a public, health-friendly, intellectual property regime, and facilitated discussions in one of the thematic groups.

Several important outcomes emerged from the consultation, including national action plans for inter-sectoral policy-making as well as suggestions for further areas of research and engagement.