Manufacturers seek greater regional collaboration in drug production

First right, Mr Okey Akpa, President WAPMA, third right, HE John Agyeman

First right, Mr Okey Akpa, President WAPMA, third right, HE John Agyeman

Nigerian emerges President of West African pharmaceuticals producing body

The West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (WAPMA) has called for greater regional collaboration in the production of essential drugs for the populace.

The group has already hinted of its resolve to achieve production self-sufficiency‎ in the Sub-region.

Also, the Chief Executive Officer of SKG Pharma Nigeria Ltd, Okey Akpa, has been elected President of the West African Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (WAPMA).

WAPMA, an umbrella body of some 200 pharmaceutical manufacturers in the sub-region, took the decision at its recent 10th-anniversary conference held in Accra, Ghana.

Akpa is currently the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN).

The new president used the opportunity of his swearing in ceremony to call for greater regional cooperation in the industry.

He explained that “in 1990, the world decided to adopt a new strategy for tackling widespread issues of multidisciplinary nature that were of significant global importance. For a quarter of a decade, the Millennium Development Goals formed a framework for developing solutions to the world’s problems, as well as monitoring and evaluating various countries projects.

“It is worthy to note that of the eight goals, at least three were focused on health improvement. To continue its successes, the framework last year morphed into the SDGs, with ‘sustainability’ identified as the game changing factor.

“The most important lesson that Africa needs to learn from the evolution of the MDGs and other such programmes is that the ultimate responsibility to developing sustainable solutions to our problems is ours.

“The desperate need for a change in strategy is even more acute when it comes to healthcare. In the past few years, we have all been witnesses to the global reaction to West African health emergencies such as Ebola. There is also overwhelming evidence of global pharma’s neglect of tropical diseases, many of which are prevalent in West Africa.”

He promised to evolve an era of change, including a new approach to engaging with policy makers.

He added: “One good example is our sub-regional approach to medicines’ self-sufficiency and its relationship to our ability to ensure health security for our people. According to the United Nations, Health security is a key dimension of the Human Security Concept and forms the basis of the new movement towards a world that is safe and secure from illnesses and diseases.

“As medicines produced by WAPMA members form the majority of healthcare interventions, it is clear that our participation in ensuring access to medicines is the cornerstone for attaining health security at all relevant levels. Currently, the lack of robust and comprehensive engagement with West African pharmaceutical manufacturers means that member nations remain at significant risk of drug insecurity together with consequent widespread effects on the health of over 300 million West Africans.

“Furthermore emerging evidence indicates that the potential for indigenous pharma to contribute to sub-regional economic growth and manpower development is grossly underutilized. With the current global economic slowdown, such potential can no longer be ignored.”

According to him, “the sub-region’s recent history and the significance of the need to guarantee access to high-quality medicines for our people, underscores the need for WAPMA together with our partners in government,to develop sustainable and comprehensive policies that are African in content and context.

“As such, some of the strategic approaches that will adopted by WAPMA across the region over the next two years will include enhancing sub-regional Research and Development capacity for the development of indigenous therapies and interventions for conditions prevalent to West Africa. We will also strongly support knowledge exchange as well as increased collaboration and cooperation among member nations, within the sub-region.”

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