The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) and ECOWAS member states on Saturday reinforced their commitment to promoting health through improved integration as well as
Prof. Stanley Okolo, Director-General, WAHO, restated the commitment at the 5th Steering Committee Meeting of the West African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Initiative in Lagos.
The meeting held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
According to him, the main purpose of the meeting is to appraise the Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (MRH) related activities in the region during the year 2018 and to recommend key actions and activities to be implemented in 2019 with the sole aim of strengthening the performance of the project.
He said: “Integration of national efforts to accelerate the well-being of the people is of great importance to the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS.
“It is for this reason that WAHO has been mandated to promote better health through regional integration.
“The quality of health of over 350 million people in the region is paramount and it is a great honour for me to lead this steering committee to strategise and take decisions to ensure access to quality, safe, efficient and affordable medical products for the people.
“I therefore, wish to use this opportunity to re-emphasise here that the region’s highest goal is to have medicines whose quality is not disputed and they are accessible to all, regardless of where the people live.
“We must all support the ongoing process to achieve our goal; as such, the diversity of capacities and efficiency of the National Medicines Regulatory Authorities (NMRAs) are needed to manage the multifaceted approaches to pave the way for success.
“I, together with staff at WAHO affirm our commitment and I believe that all present are equally committed to this vision.”
Okolo said that through the journey of the harmonisation, regulation and integration integration processes, “We may face challenges taking into consideration the limited human and financial resources.”
“These challenges could happen when building of consensus due to our diversities and the level of communication.
“The length of time it takes to get medicines registered, the responsibility to strengthen the local production of medicines and the need to increase the quantum of medicines in the region.
“The fight against the high incidence of substandard and falsified medicines circulating in the region, and the improvement of the capacity building of medicines quality control laboratories are also factors to consider.
“However, this should not deter us from achieving our common goal.
“And that is why we have agreed to jointly register and regulate medicines produced locally and imported into the region with the aim of reducing the time of registration and improving access to medicines as well as ensure better regulatory oversight.”
He commended WAHO’s sister institution, the West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA) for being very instrumental in bringing the harmonised processes of medicines regulation so far into reality and we are very much grateful for the support.
He also expressed his profound gratitude to the Federal Minister of Health of Nigeria for accepting to host the gathering.
According to the WAHO director-general, this strongly indicates the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to public health issues and the interventions of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) in particular.
The WAHO director-genral also acknowledged the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO, UEMOA, African Union Development Agency-NEPAD and Swissmedic.
Other are the European Medicines Agency, United States Pharmacopeia, DFID and UNIDO, for their outstanding contributions and efforts to the establishment and success of the Initiative in the West Africa Region.
He appealed to the meeting to ensure that in all deliberations, the patient should be “first” and all ECOWAS countries to work together to move the medicines regulatory harmonisation initiative to obtain tangible results for positive change in the population and better public health outcomes.
Also, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, Director-General, NAFDAC, said that porosity of the borders aid substandard and fake drugs to find their way into the Nigerian market, hence the need to strengthen collaboration and vigilance.
According to her, NAFDAC is actively working to check the menace.
“NAFDAC is set up in such a way that we have representatives in all the 36 states of he country and FCT.
“Our people are spread around the country to ensure that there is a lot of pharmacovigilance and post marketing surveillance that continuously takes place.
“We seize products once we know they are substandard, falsified or unregistered, as there are many products that are unregistered in Nigeria.
“And it is because of the porosity of the borders.
“But more importantly, our Ports Inspection Directorate, our people are stationed in different borders and also partner with customs to ensure that we don’t allow substandard, falsified medicines to come into our country,” Adeyeye said. (NAN)