The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged African countries to scale-up local manufacturing of medicines because it contributes to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines for all.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, who stated this in her message for this year’s African Traditional Medicine Day, themed: “Local Manufacturing of Traditional Medicine Products in the African Region,” said the theme highlights the need to promote and enhance local manufacturing for better access to quality-assured medicines.
Moeti however said that this will require stronger regulatory systems in countries to guard against low-quality medicines, and ensure locally manufactured traditional medicines and raw plant materials meet international standard of quality, safety and efficacy.
Such medicines, she said, would conform to WHO criteria for registration and selection for inclusion in national essential medicine lists.
According to her, local manufacturing of traditional medicines also require a political, regulatory and economic environment. This will further promote as well as encourage strong public-private partnerships that will boost investments in manufacturing the medicinal products and help to protect financial risk by improving economic and social development.
Speaking further, Moeti said that, to support investment and technology transfer, WHO and its partners have assisted countries to assess the need for manufacturing traditional medicines locally for some priority diseases.
“WHO is also helping to build management skills and capacity around quality control and registration of traditional medicines? We have published a range of guidelines for countries to use in their own situations to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of these and other medical products, she said.
She noted that the number of countries with national traditional medicine policies have risen steadily since 2000 and now totals 40 in the African region. Of these 40, 17 countries manufacture traditional medicines from locally-cultivated medicinal plants, while 14 allow marketing of some traditional medicines to treat priority communicable and non-communicable diseases while eight countries have included these products in their national essential medicines lists.