By BENJAMIN MUINDI, firstname.lastname@example.org
A plan to harmonise healthcare provision in the East African Community has been unveiled.
The Medicines Registration Harmonisation project will promote registration in the region for public health aimed at increasing access to quality, safe and effective drugs.
In its initial stages, the project driven by the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) and the World Health Organisation will focus on "priority diseases".
“The region has similar health and technological challenges and relatively low levels of investment in health research, drug discovery and pharmaceutical development, compared to other continents,” Nepad chief executive Ibrahim Mayaki said in a statement.
But he noted that the lack of access to essential medicines remain one of the most serious public health problems where countries are struggling to produce, procure and make safe and essential medicines available to their people.
“This is mainly because of limited budgets, lack of adequate infrastructure and human resources and a range of regulatory barriers including weak and or absent medicines legislation,” Dr Mayaki said.
It is on the basis of this challenge that the new project seeks to help countries in the region overcome the barriers that hinder people from accessing healthcare across the states.
The project was launched last week in Tanzania.
“Essential medicines save lives and improve health when they are available, affordable, of assured quality and used rationally,” Dr Mayaki said.
Other organisations on board are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, UK Department for International Development and Clinton Health Access Initiative.
The launch stressed that the regulation of medicines and harmonisation of technical standards and legislative frameworks have emerged as important components of the regional economic integration efforts.
The launch of the project in EAC will only be the beginning of the implementation phase of similar programmes across Africa and has been regarded as a milestone towards improving access to essential medicines for priority diseases in Africa.
The meeting had representatives from African Union Commission (AUC), EAC officials, representatives of EAC National Medicines Regulatory Authorities , regional pharmaceutical associations, international organisations and donors.
The programme will seek to assist African countries and regions to respond to the challenges arising in harmonising medicines regulations as an important, but neglected area of access to medicines.
Source: http://www.nation.co.ke