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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

TANZANIA NEEDS ROBUST SYSTEMS TO CURB SUBSTANDARD DRUGS


Health Ministry yesterday asked local and international health experts and stakeholders to assist the government in stepping up robust and effective monitoring systems to check the rising waves of substandard and falsified medicines and vaccines in the country.

“We need strategic and robust systems, otherwise we cannot stop consumption and movements of fake drugs and vaccines,” said the Chief Medical Officer, Prof. Mohammad Bakari Kambi at the official launching of two comprehensive and donor-funded projects—PAVIA and PROFORMA—at an international five-day meeting which has brought together experts and officials from various regulatory agencies, Universities, public health Programs, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Research institutions--from 9 countries, namely Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands and Tanzania. PAVIA and PROFORMA projects intends to set up systems for improving the quality, safety and standards of medicines and vaccines in Tanzania, among other things.

Opening the meeting, which was jointly organized by the Kilimanjaro Christian Research Institute (KCRI) and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and hosted by Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), the chief medical officer acknowledged that Tanzania has registered much progress to control quality and standard of drugs, created TFDA to regulate medical products that are being manufactured and marketed in the country. In order to continue ensuring quality, safety and efficacy standards of drugs, TFDA has set-up pharmacovigilance and post marketing surveillance systems.

“Through these systems, we have been able to detect substandard and falsified products circulating on the market as well as identifying adverse drug reactions that in advertently occurs to users of medicines,” said Kambi.
“We also have Universities and colleges that offers courses on medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, laboratory and other allied health sciences including Muhimbili which will participate in the projects we are launching today.”

However, he said, despite tremendous progress recorded, but “we still have notable gaps that need to be streamlined to have more robust, strategic and effective systems for monitoring quality, safety and efficacy of medicines in Tanzania.”

Kambi mentioned some of the areas which still needs mainstreaming as introduction of pharmacovigilance curricula in the country’s universities to “produce students with knowledge and understanding of drugs-sector, devising mechanisms for efficient detection and response to substandard and falsified products circulating in domestic markets including border patrols, engaging healthcare providers at all levels in the healthcare system to effectively detect, identify and prevent substandard medicines and vaccines.

Chief medical officer challenged experts and stakeholders gathered at the technical meeting discussing modalities for implementation of PAVIA and PROFORMA projects--to craft constructive, results-oriented and robust systems that will put a stop on substandard and falsified medicines circulating in domestic and regional markets.

In his introductory remarks, TFDA Acting Director General, Adamu Fimbo said the two projects--PAVIA and PROFORMA, are expected to develop effective and efficient regulatory systems to improve safety and standards of drugs circulating in Tanzania and other countries which the projects will be implemented.

“Through these two projects, we will be able to control movements and consumption of substandard drugs and vaccines in our country,” added director of TFDA

Through these projects, she said “we will also build capacities of our institutions by conducting training of our staff at MSc and PhD levels and other healthcare providers in order to bolster the reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and adverse events following immunization (AEFIs).”

Michele Nderu, Project Officer from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), which finance the two projects, said “Basically, PAVIA and PROFORMA projects aims to strengthening the capacity of sub – Saharan health systems to effectively deliver new products and to monitor their post-market safety.

While PAVIA focuses on strengthening the collaboration between disease control programs and Pharmacovigilance (starting with MDR-TB treatment program), PROFORMA focuses on vaccines trials, and vaccines and drugs of mass administration, according to Nderu.
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