Harmonization of medical products is taking place in the regional economic bloc, [ECOWAS] to ensure that processes, quality of work is standardized across the ECOWAS sub region including Ghana, in a bid to check fake drugs or medical products cutting across the borders.
Addressing the press during the opening of the 3rd Biennial Scientific Conference on Medical Products Regulation in Africa being organized by NEPAD in partnership with Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), CEO of the Food and Drugs Authority, Delese Darko, explained that countries in the ECOWAS bloc comprising Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and others are moving to adopt best practices in regulating medical products in their countries, so Ghana belonging to ECOWAS and all the countries in the ECOWAS sub region are trying to harmonise.
“What we are trying to do is to harmonise our regulatory systems so Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, we are harmonizing the way we all do our work, so now if you want to register a product in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia or in the Gambia, everything will be same, so you will not be able to take any product in Sierra Leone or Gambia or Ghana and find that you have a different standard, we want all our standards to be the same.
Therefore the medicines that you get in Ghana will be the same across the ECOWAS sub region, so we will not get quality of medicines being different depending on where you go in ECOWAS that is what we are trying to do, so people will not be moving fake medicines or substandard medicines across the sub region”
She also added that individual countries are working to harmonise systems, procedures, processes, through capacity building and mentorship programmes in order to achieve the objective of doing the same thing together.
“So all our processes will be the same and the quality and standards of medicines would be the same across the sub region as they have done in the Sadec region and the East African community region, so that is what we have done in the ECOWAS region.
By the time we have done all the regional blocs, we then come together and the whole of Africa will be harmonized.
There is no timeline, we are doing it in blocs and we are giving ourselves up to a certain time, so some have moved ahead and some are following”.
Minister for Health, Kweku Agyeman Manu bemoaned the transfer of diseases, fake medicines through the country’s borders.
“We travel across to funerals and come back home, some come to school here and they go back, we have several other routes that go to Cote D’Ivoire, in that respect whatever disease that we are carrying cross our borders so easily, apart from that whatever treatment and medications that have been given us cross our borders closely, those who are trading in medicines between Ghana and Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire and everywhere would just cut across each other, so people doing medicine scientifically and interested in health issues like Belinda Gates, WHO and government are worried about what type of medicines the people are taking.
Some are fake, smuggled, some should not be produced at all, so this type of conference is geared towards how they can harmonise policies, efforts to try to make sure that medicines that we are taking in our countries are the best that anybody would want to take so we stop falsified and fake drugs cutting across our countries, so we only go by WHO standards, so that drug agencies like FDA and other authorities can combine efforts and knowledge to try and fight the cancer in a very harmonious manner” he added.
According to the WHO representative in Ghana, Dr.Owen Laws Kaluwa, commitment to assure quality of medical products should not remain a regulator’s business only, as community engagement is another key to make substantial progress, particularly in the fight against substandard and falsified medicines.
“This challenge is not exclusive for our region but the toll it takes in our countries on the healthcare systems, strained public finances and most importantly, people’s lives is incomparably heavier than in any other more prosperous region”.