Tanzania joins African Forum to fight against substandard drugs

13Feb 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Tanzania joins African Forum to fight against substandard drugs

THE government has announced it will join forces with other African countries to ensure that the continent gets rid of substandard medicines.

Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children deputy minister Dr Faustine Ndungulile attends the opening of a four-day African Medicines Quality Forum (AMQF) meeting in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

Consequently, a new forum to check circulation and consumption of sub-standard and falsified medicines in Africa has been formed.

The African medicines quality forum  (AMQF) formed by NEPAD, World Health Organisation, and United States of Pharmacopeia Convention (USP) will now work with the Tanzania Foods and Drugs Authority in checking the standards of Medicines circulating in the country and in the African continent.

‘This is a critical step for alignment with the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Initiative and a foundation for establishing the African Medicines Agency,” said Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda, the head of health programmes at NEPAD.

In a rejoinder to the formation of the forum, the government of Tanzania also said it will work with the forum and other African nations in developing comprehensive and strategic quality control systems to ensure production and consumption of quality-assured medicines across Africa.

Speaking during the forum that was held in Dar es Salaam, Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Faustine Ndungulile said Tanzania’s aim was to ensure availability of quality medicines in African markets.

She said african countries must step up comprehensive and results-oriented strategies to check circulation and consumption of sub-standard and falsified medicines, a problem she added was derailing economic growth and development of the continent.

The meeting which was organised by the United States of Pharmacopeia Convention (USP), NEPAD Agency, and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) brought together health scientists, policy-makers and health stakeholders from over 18 African countries also agreed that curbing sub-standard drugs in Africa required strong regulatory drugs-agencies and harmonisation of the respective bodies.

“Capacity of regulatory agencies should be strengthened and harmonised to ease monitoring of sub-standard medicines in African markets,” said Ndomondo.

 The meeting deliberated that development of quality control systems will be done in the context of the Africa Medicines Quality Forum (AMQF -- a new Africa-based initiative which intends to broadly and strategically address challenges of poor quality of medicines distributed and consumed in African economies.

AMQF comes against a 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% of reported cases of sub-standard and falsified (SF) products were in Africa.

Ndungulile described as alarming and serious the existence of fake drugs saying that it was posing a challenge in many parts of Africa. This she noted required strategic and broad-based approaches if the aim was  to protect the patients from poor-quality drugs.

“USP is proud to collaborate with NEPAD, WHO, Tanzania FDA and others towards our common objective of increasing patient access to safe, high quality medicines by advancing smart, risk based regulatory practices and harmonisation,” said Emily Kaine, USP senior vice president of global health.

Among other things, the workshop seeks to improve coordination across African regulatory authorities, strengthening their ability to pool resources and knowledge towards protecting patients by better combating sub-standard and falsified (SF) medical products.

 The forum has brought together participants from Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroun, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Guinea, and South Africa and regional agencies such as West African Health Agency (WAHO), and development partners such as World Health Organisation (WHO), USAID and World Bank.