Why Africa risks having sub-standard medicines on the loose
ESTHER MSETEKA Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
SLOW investment inflows in medicine research and weak regulatory systems have been cited among factors that have led to most African countries falling prey to sub-standard and falsified drugs. Over the years, very few companies have been willing to take the risk of funding research and development of drugs because it is perceived to be an expensive adventure as there is no guarantee that the trials will yield positive results. Data shows that it costs drug makers US$2.6 billion to develop a new prescription medicine that gains marketing approval. With imports on the continent accounting for 90 percent medicines, there is urgent need for African countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana and Uganda to build capacity for medicine regulation and further enhance local production of pharmaceuticals to enable the public to access safe and quality drugs. However, this can only be achieved if the various stakeholders from both the public and private sector come together to create strong regulatory and investment synergies that are critical to an effective health system. Due to the various medical challenges that most countries are faced with , over 300 delegates from across the globe gathered in Victoria Falls ,Zimbabwe, from September 30th to October 1, 2019 to deliberate on the importance of strengthening medicines regulation and working together to achieve growth in the sector . The fourth Scientific Conference on Medical Products Regulation in Africa (SCoMRA), is a biennial meeting organised by the African Union Development Agency - New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDANEPAD) and World Health Organisation (WHO). This year’s theme is ‘A decade of regulatory harmonisation in Africa: Where are we? Where do we go from here?’ And WHO coordinator for regulatory systems strengthening for essential medicines and health products Mike Ward emphasised the need for the formulation of medical cooperation if countries are to address the regulatory issues and protect themselves from counterfeit drugs.
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