THE New Partnership for Africa's Development Agency (NEPAD) has commended Tanzania for its efforts to help acquire economic integration in East Africa.
NEPAD's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki told reporters in Dar es Salaam that Africa needs strong regional blocks that would overcome its development challenges and termed the country's contribution in the Eastern Africa block as exemplary.
Dr Mayaki who is in the country on a working tour, made a courtesy call at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and later visited the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) and commended its performance.
"In NEPAD we rate Tanzania as a real player in tackling issues that may delay East African regional integration and therefore that of the entire African continent," he said.
He said TFDA, despite being an institution of excellence; he appealed for the government to enable it face challenges like shortage of staff and capacity building. However, he said that apart from the challenges, the Authority has recorded a number of achievements especially in executing its regulatory role and effective participation in the Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (MRH) project which is implemented across the region.
The East African Community MRH Project was launched in March, last year and the region was the first block in Africa to launch it under the African Medicines Registration Harmonization Initiative (AMRHI) coordination.
Speaking at the occasion, the TFDA's Director General, Mr Hiiti Sillo, said NEPAD has been active partner in the implementation of MRH in collaboration with other partners, like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank. He said the harmonization of medicines registration in the regional partner states will help increase the availability of safe, efficacious and good quality essential medicines in the region.
Mr Sillo also admitted that Tanzania was still facing massive counterfeit and substandard medicines due to a number of reasons. "Weak or absence of regulatory systems in neighbouring countries and limited capacities in areas of human resources and infrastructure are some of the factors behind failure by the region to jointly fight the vise at the moment," he said.
Mr Sillo appealed for NEPAD to extend its support in areas of policy and legal framework that will address gaps in medicines legislation at national and regional levels, as well as developing model laws and uniform enactment of the same.