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Aurum hosts first meeting as SAHTAC secretariat

Aurum hosts first meeting as SAHTAC secretariat

The Aurum Institute recently hosted the annual general meeting of the South African Health Technologies Advocacy Coalition (SAHTAC), the first since it took over the secretariat role this year.

Speaking at the meeting, Professor Gavin Churchyard, Aurum Group Chief Executive Officer, said Aurum looks forward to working in partnership with the coalition members to meet the ambitious SAHTAC targets.

Coalition

SAHTAC is a coalition of civil society organisations that supports evidence-based policy change and implementation and improved coordination of health research and development funding.

Aurum has taken over the reins from global organisation PATH, in order to build local health research and development capacity.

Ntando Yola co-lead of Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and AIDS (APHA), said having a local organisation take on the role of secretariat is a progressive move that strengthens contextual advocacy and cross-disease area unity. “It is a move that will foster unity through acknowledging the intersections across diseases that affect the country,” he added.

Primary outcomes

SAHTAC Project Manager Sakhile Khaweka outlined plans for SAHTAC for the next three years with Aurum at the helm. In the first year, the coalition plans to build on sustained health research and development funding, advocate for the South African government to adopt a prioritsation framework to ensure funding for health research and development. SAHTAC will also advocate for key investments to be aligned to locally relevant health priorities.

Another primary outcome is to advocate for the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to increase their transparency in reporting on the status of applications/dossiers/products as they move through the regulatory and approval processes. The coalition also aims to increased salience of diversity and gender equity in health research.

New tools

Churchyard said Aurum’s focus is on developing and implementing solutions for TB, HIV and more recently COVID-19. This and the work done by other coalition members, needs new tools, products and technologies such as those envisaged by SAHTAC.

Lauren Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer for Campaigning for Cancer, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic provided important lessons for SAHTAC members. “It points to two things- the need to invest in innovative health technology and research and development, as well as what strides can be achieved when there is sufficient investment into innovation and research and development and how multiple stakeholders can work together to achieve a common goal,” she said.

Churchyard added that South Africa has a legacy of leading the discovery of development and the delivery of new tools to address these priority diseases. “We clearly need to identify promising new products and technologies and contribute to their development to implement market-shaping strategies to ensure that the products and technologies are accessible at an affordable price, and to support applications for regulatory approvals and to read the guidelines and advocate for the adoption of new technologies and funding to support these initiatives,” he said.