HEALTH, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Ministry has asked domestic and international health experts to assist in establishing vigorous and effective monitoring systems to check increasing substandard medicines and vaccines in the country.
"We need strategic and robust systems, otherwise we cannot stop consumption and movements of fake drugs and vaccines," said the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Prof Mohammad Bakari Kambi at the official launch of two comprehensive and donor-funded projects--PAVIA and PROFORMA.
The launch coincided with the five-day international meeting that has brought together experts and officials from various regulatory agencies, universities, public health programmers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and research institutions from nine countries.
The represented countries are Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands and Tanzania. PAVIA and PROFORMA projects intend to set up systems for improved quality, safety and standards of medicines and vaccines in Tanzania, among other things.
Opening the meeting, which was jointly organised by the Kilimanjaro Christian Research Institute (KCRI) and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and hosted by Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), Professor Kambi said that Tanzania has registered enviable progress in controlling quality and standards of drugs.
He credited TFDA for its efforts to regulate medical products that are being manufactured and marketed in the country. In order to continue ensuring quality, safety and efficacy standards of drugs, TFDA has setup pharmacovigilance and post marketing surveillance systems.
"Through these systems, we have been able to detect substandard and falsified products circulating on the market as well as identifying adverse drug reactions that occur to users of medicines.
We also have universities and colleges like Muhimbili offering courses on medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, laboratory and other allied health sciences, which will participate in the projects we are launching today," charged Prof Kambi. He however said despite tremendous progress recorded, "We still have notable gaps that need to be streamlined to have more robust, strategic and effective systems for monitoring quality, safety and efficacy of medicines in Tanzania."
The CMO mentioned some of the areas which still need mainstreaming as introduction of pharmacovigilance curricula in the country's universities to produce students with knowledge and understanding of drugsector, devising mechanisms for efficient detection and response to substandard and falsified products circulating in domestic markets.
The mechanisms include border patrols, engaging healthcare providers at all levels in the healthcare system to effectively detect, identify and prevent substandard medicines and vaccines.
Professor Kambi challenged experts and stakeholders at the meeting to craft constructive, results-oriented and robust systems that will curb substandard medicines circulating in domestic and regional markets.
In his introductory remarks, TFDA Acting Director General, Adamu Fimbo said the two projects-- PAVIA and PROFORMA, are expected to develop effective and efficient regulatory systems to improve safety and standards of drugs consumed in Tanzania and other countries which the projects will be implemented.
"Through these two projects, we will be able to control movements and consumption of substandard drugs and vaccines in the country," said Mr Fimbo.
Under the projects, he said "We will also build capacities of our institutions by training our employees at Masters and PhD levels and other healthcare providers to bolster the reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and adverse events following immunisation."
Project Officer from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) Michele Nderu said basically, the projects aim at strengthening the capacity of Sub-Saharan health systems to effectively deliver new products and monitor their post-market safety.
While PAVIA focuses on strengthening the collaboration between disease control programmes and Pharmacovigilance, starting with MDR-TB treatment programme, PROFORMA focuses on vaccines trials as well as vaccines and drugs of mass administration, according to Mr Nderu.