For over a year, the South African CAMS industry has struggled through the most difficult time in its history, as its survival was seriously threatened by ill-conceived and illegal regulations. There is now, however, a light at the end of the tunnel, as government and industry set the stage to resolve issues and negotiate regulations that will be acceptable to all parties. To this end, the CAMS industry has come together to establish the CAMS Working Forum (CWF), which has been convened to engage with the DoH on the subject of CAMS-appropriate regulations. “Strategically, things are coming together,” says Norman Fels. “The engagement process has been opened and we look forward to making meaningful progress.”
Made up of the various associations affected by the Regulations and chaired by Nicola Brink, the CWF was formed to represent the interests of its members. It is the largest stakeholder group representing natural health interests and comprises representatives of trade associations whose members manufacture and/or market, import or sell CAMS products, as well as other organizations and practitioners involved in the CAMS industry. Currently represented in the forum are SMASA (Self-Medication Manufacturers Association of SA), HPA (Health Products Association), DSA (Direct Selling Association), PHARMISA (Pharmaceuticals Made in South Africa), TNHA (Traditional & Natural Health Alliance) and HSASA (Health Shops Association of South Africa).
The CWF is divided into two subgroups – the CAMS Strategic Working Forum (CSWF), of which the HPA’s Norman Fels is Chairman and the Vice-Chair is Cornelle van Graan of the DSA, and the CAMS Technical Working Forum (CTWF), with Allison Vienings of SMASA as Chairperson and the HPA’s Celecia Pleass in the Vice-Chair seat. Each member association will be allowed two representatives on each committee. The HPA representatives are Norman Fels and Howard Snoyman on the Strategic Forum, and Janet Welham and Dr. Trevor Bailie on the Technical Committee.
The forum has a two-pronged strategy. The main focus is to strengthen communication between the Regulatory Authority and CAMS industry, and to liaise with the DoH in order to positively influence the regulatory environment with the aim of getting the current Regulations rescinded and a new and appropriate set of regulations published. It will also continue to engage with the Portfolio Health Committee in an attempt to find a solution that will enable the industry to appropriately register current and new products.
“A great deal is happening, most of which is positive,” continues Fels. “We have not yet met with the DoH, and still seek meetings with the Deputy Director-General, Dr Andan Pillay, and the Registrar of Medicines, Dr Joey Gouws. An essential strategy of the CWF is to establish who at the DoH is to be the official interface for engagement.”