29 December 2017

Rwanda: New Law to Promote Safe Drugs Consumption

Parliament yesterday unanimously passed a new draft establishing the national food and drugs authority, a move the State Minister in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care said seeks to encourage

private investments in the area and ensure safe drugs consumption in the country.

The bill establishes the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority and determines its mission, organisation and functioning.

While tabling the draft law in the House last month, the State Minister in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, said that lack of such an institution was hampering proper regulation of food and drugs in the country and posed risks to the health of the population.

He also said that lack of such a body threatened ongoing investments and opportunities in pharmaceutical and food industry in Rwanda while the country needs to strategically position itself for international competiveness in pharmaceutical regulation, research, and development.

The body will regulate food and drug items, checking whether they meet minimum standards and whether the ingredients used to produce them are not harmful to human health.

Dr Ndimubanzi welcomed the passing of the draft law yesterday, saying in an interview with journalists at Parliament that the authority will play a big role in improving the health of Rwandans.

"I am so happy; this law will be very important for Rwandans. It will ensure that they consume quality drugs and it will boost private sector investments in this area," he said.

The minister said that next steps towards its implementation will include passing a Presidential Order that gives the authority's staff special statute as well a Prime Minister's Order that specifies which government institution will be responsible for supervising the body.

Under the draft legislation that governs the agency, its employees will be given a special statute instead of being governed by general statutes of public servants.

The chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, Ignatienne Nyirarukundo, said that the idea is to give the body's employees full independence to carry out their work.

The committee examined the bill on behalf of Parliament before the latter passed it.

"Because it has to do with the health of people and given that its employees will be highly specialised and qualified, we thought that this body needs a special status for its employees so they can successfully execute their duties," MP Nyirarukundo said.

"This organ will start operating as soon as possible," Dr Ndimubanzi said, also revealing that the agency is likely to be up and running early next year.

Most legislators welcomed the body, with many arguing that setting up the authority will help protect Rwandans from substandard food and drugs, which are currently on the market with very little or no control.

During debate prior to Thursday's passing of the draft law, MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma said that the authority was long overdue because there are so many people out there who go around claiming that they can cure all kinds of diseases.

Ruku-Rwabyoma urged the government to ensure that the proposed agency has enough staff once it's in place so they can help curb illicit drugs processing and dissemination.

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