Dar es Salaam — African countries have resolved to formulate comprehensive and results-oriented strategies to check circulation and consumption of sub-standard and fake medicines.
This has been cited as one of the biggest problems, which impede economic growth on the continent.
The purpose for the latest move, according to Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Faustine Ndugulile is to ensure availability of quality medicines in African markets.
"Substandard and fake medical products are a serious challenge in many parts of Africa. This requires strategic and apt approaches if we are to protect people from such drugs," he told participants at the four-day African Medicines Quality Forum (AMQF).
The forum, which is taking place in Dar es Salaam, draws scientists, policy-makers and health stakeholders from over 18 African countries. The forum has been co-organised by the United States of Pharmacopeia Convention (USP), NEPAD Agency, and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA).
As part of solution to the problem, African countries are now developing comprehensive and strategic quality control systems to ensure production and consumption of quality medicines across Africa.
The development of quality control systems will be done in the context of AMQF, a new Africa-based initiative which intends to broadly and strategically address the challenges of poor quality of medicines distributed and consumed in Africas, according to the minister. AMQF comes against the backdrop of alarming rate of reported cases of sub-standard drugs in many parts of Africa, including Tanzania.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 42 per cent of reported cases were in Africa.
Existence of sub-standard and fake medicines have prompted NEPAD, USP, TFDA and other agencies in Africa to establish the AMQF with a view to tackling the problems and ensuring that Africans have access to safe, efficacious and quality medical products.
The head of Health Programmes at NEPAD Agency, Ms Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda said curbing sub-standard drugs in Africa required strong regulatory drugs agencies and harmonisation of the respective bodies.
"Capacity of the regulatory agencies should be strengthened and harmonised to ease monitoring of the sub-standard medicines in African markets," noted Ms Ndomondo.
She added: "The formation of the African medicines quality forum is a good step for alignment with the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiative and a foundation for establishing the African Medicines Agency."
For her part, TFDA Acting Director General Agnes Kijo said: "They were supporting efforts to strengthen harmonisation in Africa by sharing ideas, innovations and jointly find solutions for the greatest impact in our regulatory systems to ensure only safe and quality medicines are available in the market."
"USP is proud to collaborate with NEPAD, WHO, TFDA and others towards our common objective of increasing patients' access to safe, high quality medicines by advancing smart, risk based regulatory practices and harmonisation," said Emily Kaine, USP senior vice president of the Global Health.