DAR-ES-SALAAM– Medical and health experts, scientists, State and non-State actors from across Africa and beyond are meeting here this week to exchange notes on the best ways to improve the quality of locally-produced and imported medicines in the face of rising concerns over massive circulation of sub-standard medicines in the continent.

We want to ensure that African people have access to safe, effective, and quality medicines, according to a joint statement issued here by the partners organizing a four-day Africa Medicines Quality Forum (AMQF) and Risk-based Post-Market Surveillance of Medicines taking place from Monday to Thursday.

The partners organizing the forum are the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) convention, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), an agency of the African Union (AU) and the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA).

The AMQF is a new, Africa-based initiative which intends to broadly and strategically address challenges of poor quality of medicines distributed and consumed in Africa. It comes against a backdrop of an alarming rate of reported cases of sub-standard drugs in many parts of Africa, including Tanzania.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 42 per cent of reported cases of sub-standard and falsified (SF) products are in Africa. That’s the reason why we are organizing this forum we want to find durable solutions to these problems and ultimately stop production and supply of sub-standard drugs in African markets, the statement said.

Among other objectives, the workshop seeks to improve co-ordination across African regulatory authorities, strengthening their ability to pool resources and knowledge to protect patients by better combating sub-standard and falsified (SF) medical products.

“AMQF’s focus will include regional quality control (QC) capacity building, postmarketing surveillance, laboratory proficiency testing and certification and bioequivalence studies for generic medicines, as well as advocacy, added the statement.

At the end of the day, the workshop will establish AMQF’s technical working group (TWG), set its structure and develop its first-year activity plan. According to the statement, the meeting marks a significant milestone as AMQF transitions to align with the African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation (AMRH) Initiative, as part of the AU, a critical step towards harmonisation and eventual launch of the African Medicines Agency (AMA).”