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A three-day regional workshop deliberating on substitution of innovator products with quality generic reproductive health medicines adhering to internationally set standards kicked off today.  Twenty-three countries from eastern and southern Africa are participating in this workshop which is being held under the theme “Accelerating uptake of generic quality assured hormonal contraceptives.”

Speaking at the event, Heran Gerba, Deputy Director-General of the Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority, said that availability, accessibility and affordability are key considerations in promoting substitution of brand medicines with quality assured generic medicines.

On his part, Victor Rakoto, Deputy Country Representative of UNFPA, underlined the pertinence of the theme chosen for the workshop saying that “affordability becomes critical especially at this time of high competition for resources.”

The workshop is jointly organized by the East and Southern Africa Regional Office and the Procurement Service Branch of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, as one initiative in advocating for generic substitution. The workshop is believed to raise the awareness of the participants on quality of generic hormonal contraceptives, the options available for procurement, and on identifying activities for promotion of generic hormonal contraceptives.

UNFPA has in recent years been actively advocating for the procurement of generic hormonal Reproductive Health medicines that meet internationally acceptable standards.  To date, out of the 29 hormonal contraceptives prequalified by the Wold Health Organization, 19 of them are generic medicines. Most of these generic medicines are cheaper than the innovator products.  

But despite the increase in the number of generic hormonal medicines that meet the internationally acceptable quality and safety standards, very few orders have been made for them which is posing a challenge. 

The meeting is expected to come up with a roadmap on rolling out generic hormonal contraceptives in the participating countries and increasing their uptake.

Representatives from family planning programmes in the Ministries of Health, National procurements Agencies, and National Medicines Regulation Agencies of the participating countries are taking part in the workshop.