…As Stakeholders Discuss Medicine Security
The West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP) on Tuesday inducted 126 new Fellows into its fold, having passed the 2021 Part Two Fellowship Exam of the college.
The newly inducted Fellows cut across all the specialised areas in the five faculties of the college, namely Clinical Pharmacy, Community Pharmacy, Drug Production & Quality Assurance, Public Health Pharmacy and Social & Administrative Pharmacy.
Speaking while administering the Fellowship oath to the new inductees, the Chairman, Joint Faculty Board of the college, Professor Eric Woode, charged the new Fellows to be good ambassadors of the college wherever they go.
The new Fellows were inducted at the 34th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Symposium of the college, held in Lagos from 16-18 May, 2022. The theme of the symposium is “Medicine Security in the West Africa Region: Matter Arising”.
While speaking at the event, the President of the institution, Distinguished Professor Cecelia Igwilo, lamented that the West African Region is becoming a dumping ground for all manners of pharmaceutical products, adding that drug importation has sorrowfully gifted the region with problems of substandard and falsified medicines. She therefore called for adequate lasting solution to the problem.
Professor Igwilo, noted that the WAPCP is already working with some Francophone countries, saying such collaboration will provide opportunity that will advance the global Pharmacy practice.
“Everything is ready. The council has made available opportunities for our shared vision. We are on the right path and as pharmacists, we shall continue to re-enforce our expertise to the benefit of the people of the West African Region and by extension the rest of the world”, she said.
In his address, the keynote speaker, Pharm. (Dr) Okey Akpa, said the argument for medicine security beams its searchlight on the fact that countries or regions must have reasonable control and access to medicines at all times, stressing that medicine security is critical to the survival of the population of such country or region.
Akpa, who is the Managing Director of SKG Pharma Limited, as well as the President of West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (WAPMA), pointed out that medicines security is aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in critical supplies of essential medicines.
He said supply of medicines to West Africa is largely dependent on importation. According to the keynote speaker, it is estimated on the average that only 30% of medicines supply in West Africa is from local production, while 70% of the supply are imported, though the figures may vary in some countries within the region, where local production has grown in the last fifteen years or more.
“An import dependency level of 70% in the West African Region is a real danger to the population of the region. This calls for action, and urgent action for that matter, not just rhetoric”,Akpa said.
Although there are three options to achieving medicine security which are importation, donation and local production, the SKG boss said local production, out of the three options, looks the most attractive, and the most reliable of the options. He pointed out that local production is the most challenging of all the options to provide medicines that are effective, safe, affordable and of good quality.
The commonly mentioned challenges facing local drug production, according to Akpa include government policies, access to market, regulatory challenges, poor return on investment, limited availability or lack of skilled manpower, medicine distribution channel challenges, lack of research and development, over dependent on import for production inputs, weak healthcare system, poor infrastructure, lack of finance, lack of government incentives among others.
He submitted that Africa can and has demonstrated that it can make its medicines. To achieve the goal of medicine security in the West African Region, Akpa called for political will and commitment; access to market, improved regulation, and distribution.
“Medicine security drives health security; health security drives economic security, economic security drives national security. In this sense, medicines must be treated as one of the key components of the region (and countries) security architecture”, Akpa said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire, who was ably represented by Director, Food and Drug Services Department, Mrs Bunmi Aribeana, assured stakeholders of the Federal Ministry of Health’s continuous effort towards ensuring medicine security.
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who also spoke at the event said every measure must be in place to achieve medicine security. Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Chairman, Lagos State Health Commission, Dr Atinuke Onayiga, pointed out that drug security is very important, hence there is need to build bridge and do whatever possible to achieve it in the West African Region.
In her address, the Chairman of the occasion, Dr (Mrs) Dere Awosika, who is the current Chairman of Access Bank PLC said the region can achieve medicine security but there must be cooperation. She therefore called on all stakeholders in the West African Pharmaceutical sector to work together to achieve the goal.
Earlier in his remarks, the Father of the Day at the occasion, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, stated that the only way to make patients to benefit medically is for all the professionals in the health sector to work together and support one another.
Adelusi-Adeluyi, who is also president, Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy, averred that the West African Region can achieve medicine security if all stakeholders in the health sector support one another and work together. He therefore urged the region to set goals.
The President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Professor Cyril Usifoh, in his welcome address said the West African Region is too exposed going by its reliance on importation of pharmaceutical and medical devices, a development he said put the citizen of the region at big risk. He therefore called on all stakeholders to urgently find solution to the problem.