19 December 2012

Africa: Outdated Legislation Hindering Health Programs in Africa

Juba — Africa is faced with huge challenges in the execution of health programs because of old and outdated laws and regulations that the continent inherited from its colonial masters, a World Bank health officer has said.

The International Finance Cooperation's (IFC) Head of Health in Africa Initiative, Professor Khama Rogo, said most of the African countries still rely on the old English or Portuguese laws and regulations that are unable to regulate and guide the execution of modern activities in the health sector effectively.

"It's on record that 50 percent of medicines used in Africa are counterfeit medicine. It may look like an anti-biotic but inside it you have chalk, powder or if you are lucky, you get maize flour or whatever is inside there", decried Prof Rogo.

He said the health challenges in the continent are so huge that no government or development partner can surmount them single-handedly. He emphasized the need for collective efforts in dealing with the health challenges in the region. Prof Rogo identified the inability to work to full potential by hospitals and other health institutions, limited drugs, and doctors leaving the continent for greener pastures as some of the major challenges facing the health sector in Africa.

"Today every African country goes through the process of budget allocation in construction and renovation of hospitals but the big issue is, these institutions we put our money in work at not more than 30 percent of their potential", he stated. He emphasized the need for African governments to put in place the necessary laws and regulations to monitor the proper execution of health programs in Africa.

Prof Rogo made these remarks on December 14 at the launch of South Sudan Drugs and Food Control Authority (DFCA) in Juba under the theme "Securing access to quality, safe and efficacious pharmaceutical and food products". The DFCA is supported by the International Finance Cooperation and the World Bank Group.

Hon. Dr. Yatta Logur, the deputy minister for Health said despite South Sudan making some progress in the area of pharmaceuticals, he expressed concern over the way drugs are being handled.

"A lot of drugs still enter our country unverified. In the market you find a lot of fake drugs; you also find drugs being sold like groundnuts in kiosks all over South Sudan", he said.

He said the government through the Ministry of Health has established the Drugs and Food Control Authority to enhance drugs and food control in South Sudan.

Meanwhile Dr. Abdi Mohamed of World Health Organization (WHO) lauded the government for the initiative of forming the authority which he said will help in ensuring the quality of foods and drugs entering the country.

He expressed hope that the DFCA will address the problem of counterfeit and substandard foods in the country. He assured of the support of WHO in making the DFCA achieve its desired objectives.

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