Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
ZIMBABWE and other African states are pushing for the establishment of an African Medicines Agency in an effort to reverse the trend whereby the continent is being turned into a dumping ground for counterfeit medicines.
Plans for harmonised health processes started a decade ago with the establishment of the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) Initiative.
Focus now is on the African Medicines Agency although only five countries including Zimbabwe have shown commitment.
Addressing 4th Biennial Scientific Conference in Medical Products Regulation in Africa (SCoMRA IV) delegates in Victorial Falls on Monday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said Africa has a weak regulatory frameworks for manufacture of medicines.
“The continent is faced with the threat of substandard and falsified medicines due to weak regulatory frameworks. It is therefore important to build capacity for medicines regulation in Africa and enhancing local production of pharmaceuticals to counter these challenges and ensure our population has timely access to safe and effective quality medicines,” he said.
The Minister said there is a need to guard against the influx of fake medicines that put citizens’ lives at risk.
“We want safe efficient products that are available at the shortest possible time which is why it is necessary for Africa to harmonise so we independently manufacture our own medicines. We want a situation where medicines manufactured in one country can easily be utilised in another for safety of citizens and efficiency in treatment of diseases,” said Dr Moyo.
The Minister said 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s medicines are imported from India and called for local pharmaceutical players to be capacitated to manufacture health products.
“For any country to execute a perfect healthcare system there is need for adequate medicines. It becomes very relevant that one of the issues is self-sustaining in the manufacturing of medicines within our countries. In Zimbabwe 80 percent of our supplies are coming from India while Uganda imports about 90 percent,” said Dr Moyo.
He said Africa should strengthen its health manufacturing sector so that it is in a position to standardise the regulatory processes to ensure medicines are easily assessed and tested.
Dr Moyo bemoaned poor funding for medical products regulatory authorities despite the continent facing a high burden of diseases.
AUDA-NEPAD director Professor Aggrey Ambali said harmonising regulations will help the continent in eliminating counterfeit medicines. — @ncubeleon