THE first meeting on the local production of essential drugs in the African Region was held in Praia, Cape Verde, from 14 to 18 September 1998. Organized by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, it was attended by 44 participants from 19 countries in the Region. They included directors of pharmaceutical services and national supply agencies, national drug regulatory authorities, local drug manufacturers and specialists in local production, as well as representatives of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the West African Pharmaceutical Federation and WHO.
In his opening speech, the Prime Minister of Cape Verde insisted on the need to promote the development of a viable local pharmaceutical industry. The industry should be capable of producing good quality drugs at affordable cost, within an appropriate regulatory environment, in order to improve the population’s accessibility to essential drugs.
Participants held in depth plenary and group discussions on five major themes:
information exchange on the local production of pharmaceuticals;
mechanisms to improve management and increase local production;
bulk purchasing mechanisms at national, intercountry and regional levels;
strategies for improving quality assurance and regulatory mechanisms;
industrial production of traditional medicines and their use in the health care delivery system.
After discussions a series of recommendations were made for each of the five areas, to move the initiative forward in a practical and concerted way. The WHO Regional Director for Africa expressed his wish to see the meeting becoming an annual event, in order to evaluate progress made on local production and related issues. He also confirmed WHO’s readiness to assist Member States in their pharmaceutical sectors.
Delegates concluded that the meeting had proved a good opportunity to exchange experiences related to local production of essential drugs in the Region. It was also the first step towards the development of the existing potential of the pharmaceutical industry in Africa. For this potential to be realised, participants agreed that there is a need for greater political commitment, development of national drug policies supportive of local production, improved management, and human resources and technology development.
A report of the meeting is available from: Essential Drugs Programme, WHO Regional Office for Africa, P.O. Box BE 773, Belvedere, Harare, Zimbabwe.