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The presence of unregulated sub-standard and falsified medical products circulating within IGAD member states is a serious public health threat which is, if not prevented and controlled, will undermine confidence in the public healthcare systems and programs, it was stated during a meeting on medicine regulatory harmonization program in the IGAD Region.
The meeting organized by WHO and IGAD focused on the threat of unregulated medicines that are widely circulating in the IGAD region and ways on pushing forward standardization and regulation to solve the problem.
“Member States face many challenges with respect to their growth and development mainly due to inadequate social infrastructure especially on health. IGAD region suffers from a variety of tropical diseases, including Tuberculosis, Malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases and other endemic communicable diseases,” said Fathia Alwan, Director of IGAD Health and Social Development Directorate.
The fact that there are a high amount of unregulated medications in member’s states is a serious problem that particularly affects those that live in rural area, pastoralists and cross boarder mobile populations due to poor regulatory systems, poor exchange of regulatory information, limited regulatory capacity and inadequate regulatory resources.
It was stated that while in Ethiopia the health extension program has played a pivotal role in saving the lives of millions of children from infectious diseases while building a health system that can sustain gains over long term, the issue of unregulated medications remain to be an issue.
“We all understand that the situation in IGAD states is so volatile and slippery, with regards to pharmaceutical supply management and regulatory systems. We as a region believe that the cost of medicine is a determining factor for our consumers, since most of the patients pay for their medications out of pocket and medicines sold in licensed pharmacies remain out of reach for many of our villages and so most of the population continue to patronize drug outlets that are not regulated,” said Dr. Kebede Worku, Ethiopian State Minister of Health.
The state minister also stated that the IGAD region has been working strongly on the regulatory system strengthening in collaboration with partners such as WHO, and progress continues to be seen.