EAST African Community member states have been urged to adopt laws that would be harmonised in the region to allow for cross-border control of medical products as perpetrators do not distinguish borders.
Officiating at the launch of the tenth Steering Committee Meeting of the EAC Medical Regulatory Harmonisation Programme held in Dar es Salaam recently, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Mpoki Ulisubisya said collective efforts were needed to ensure the region was free from sub-standard and counterfeit medical products.
“Concerted efforts are needed to curb clandestine manufacturing and illegal smuggling of falsified products that end-up to users” he said. He cautioned that if those products found their way into the regional market, people could fall victim and end up in hospital with devastating health problems.
Dr Mpoki told committee members which comprised of Chief Pharmacists from EAC partner states and Heads of National Medicines Regulatory Authorities in the region that the institutions they were leading were very crucial in protecting and promoting public health in the region.
“These institutions provide a rate-limiting step in any healthcare system to halt poor quality, unsafe and ineffective medical products from reaching our markets” he noted.
The Principal Secretary revealed that EAC member states have set a target that by the end of this year all medicines and medical equipment from entering into any member state must be of the same quality as per agreed regulations by the region.
Dr Mpoki said that the Medicine Harmonisation Program under review which began in 2012 has recorded good results as it has managed to put in place harmonisation systems, setting up guidelines and procedures.
He appreciated the technical and financial support rendered to the program by various partners including World Health Organisation (WHO), the Bill Gates Foundation, the Swiss Development Cooperation, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the World Bank and NEPAD Agency.
Apart from thanking them, Dr Mpoki expressed his optimism that those partners would continue supporting the program as it entered its third phase which would embrace other regulatory functions namely pharmaco-vigilance, post marketing surveillance, medical devices regulations as well as vaccines and other biological products control.
Meanwhile, Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) has reiterated its commitment in the integration agenda as agreed by EAC council of ministers of health to ensure a harmonized and functioning medicines regulation system within EAC which was accordance with national and internationally recognised standards best practices.
TFDA’s Director General Mr Hiiti Sillo informed committee members and partners attending the meeting that since official inauguration of the Regulatory Harmonisation Program in March 2012, as EAC’s lead agency in medicines and evaluation, TFDA has been taking various measures to implement the program.