By Victoria Hanson, LAGOS – Regional collaboration among the 15 medicines regulatory agencies in West Africa is key to strengthening availability of quality drugs, the West African Health Organisation ( WAHO) has said.
Dr Carlos Brito, WAHO Director of Public Health said this while speaking in Lagos on Thursday, at the opening of a Technical Workshop preparatory to the Steering Committee meeting of the West African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (WA-MRH) Project.
The WA-MRH Project was launched in 2017, in order to step up efforts to harmonise medicines registration in the region and to ensure more effective coordination.
According to Dr Brito, it is the responsibility of WAHO to put in place mechanism of solidarity to help countries in the region to solve their problems.
“WAHO and ECOWAS have a very strong mechanism of solidarity that can be used. We consider integration better for us to achieve health for all in our region.
“Our countries are not on the same level of development and very often, it is very necessary to help countries to strengthen programme, to strengthen capacity in our 15 countries.
“We are committed to the work of integration where all our countries utilise what is better done in one country to the interest of the entire region,” Dr Britos said.
Speaking to journalists, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, who chairs the technical session also, stressed the need for regional collaboration among regulatory agencies.
She said the goal of collaboration is to “ensure that we have quality medicines for our people to reduce falsify medicines.”
Prof Adeyeye said collaboration will also strengthen the regulatory framework to ensure that the weaker regulatory agencies are strengthened.
According to her, “If a regulatory agency that is my neighbour is weak then, am going to be weak because we will have falsify medicines coming through such a neighbouring country.”
She said NAFDAC is getting funding from WAHO and deriving other benefits noting that three of Nigeria’s pharmaceutical companies have submitted dossiers – list of medicines through WAHO for regional approval.
This she said means “there will be trade if those products are approved because our companies can export their products to the West African countries.”
The two-day technical meeting will produce working documents for the Steering Committee that will be chaired by WAHO Director-General, Prof Stanley Okolo on Saturday.
The WA-MRH project with a Steering Committee comprising the 15 Heads of National Medicines Regulatory Authorities (NMRAs) of ECOWAS was established through technical support of partners like the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, African Union Development Agency (NEPAD), the World Health Organisation, USAID and many others.