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Why Access To Essential Medicines Is Important – Prof Babalola

Unrestricted access to quality and essential medicine and medical products are germane to achieving a healthier world, experts have posited.

Access to essential medicines as part of the right to the highest attainable standard of health (“the right to health”) is well-founded in international law.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the right to health first emerged as a social right in the Constitution (1946) and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

The director of Centre for Drug Discovery, Development and Production (CDDDP), University of Ibadan, Prof  Chinedum P. Babalola, has said that lack of access to essential medicines remains one of the most serious global public health problems.

She said essential medicines save lives and improve health when they are available, affordable, of assured quality and properly used.

Babalola gave the disclosure recently during a two-day international conference organised by the Centre for Drug Discovery, Development and Production (CDDDP), which brought together, major stakeholders in the health and legal sector with the focus on improving access to medicines

She emphasised the need to organise the International Conference at this particular period, adding that one of the mandates for setting up the centre is to ensure the availability of safe and affordable quality medicines for the African populace.

The centre had identified a key component to access to quality medicines to include policy and legislation alongside the implementation of these legislations.

The conference theme was: Improving Access to Quality Medicines through Appropriate Legislation and Policies. The conference had in attendance, policy makers from the Federal and state Ministries of Health, the African Union (AU)/New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Ministry of Justice, Oyo State, and policy implementation regulatory agencies like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharmacists’ Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), as well as other stakeholders in the Nigerian healthcare delivery system.

The conference which was held at the University of Ibadan (UI) Conference Centre, Ibadan, Nigeria on 29th and 30th August, 2017, was chaired by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac .F. Adewole with the key note address given by the Ag. Director General, NAFDAC Mrs. Yetunde Oni.

In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Professor Abel Olayinka, who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor; Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnership, Prof Olanike K. Adeyemo, appreciated McArthur Foundation for establishing the centre at the University of Ibadan and highlighted the success achieved by the centre in its Post-graduate training programmes. He also appreciated NEPAD for selecting CDDDP as a regional centre of Regulatory Excellence through its African Medicines Regulatory Harmonisation Programme.

He said he was gladdened by the choice of the theme of the conference towards providing access to quality medicines for Nigerians as this is key to building a wealthy nation.

The Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, UI, Prof. Oluwatoyin A. Odeku applauded the efforts of Professor Chinedum P. Babalola, the Principal Investigator (PI), the Co-PI, Professor O. A. Itiola and the organising committee members for working tirelessly to ensure the success of this conference.

She welcomed everyone to the conference and assured all participants that the conference would provide opportunity for rubbing minds to yield positive results.

In his opening remarks, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, reiterated his commitment to the service of the nation and to his Alma Mata, the University of Ibadan. He applauded the centre for its commitment towards improving access to quality medicines and for choosing such a theme at this particular time.

He reminded participants that the Federal Ministry of Health makes the policies while the agencies of government implement these policies. He stated the commitment of the government to encourage local manufacturing of essential medicines.

Recently, medicines used for relief in the North East and also during the relief support to Sierra Leone and Cameroon were manufactured in Nigeria.

Adewole also asked for more interactions with the private sector in the area of Public Private Partnerships in building a robust health sector.

Delivering the keynote address, the Director General of NAFDAC, Mrs. Yetunde Oni, reiterated the need for collaboration among stakeholders to ensure that the various challenges to access to quality medicines are identified and addressed.

She identified access to quality medicines as a key element in the healthcare arsenal and also recognised several global and regional initiatives towards improving access to quality medicines in a sustainable manner.

Among others, the World Health Organization (WHO) through its pre-qualification programme and its collaborative registration procedure remains one of the foremost global initiative to support and ensure access to quality medicines whilst providing opportunities to build regulatory capacities within different countries. This initiative provides for collaboration and engagement with the potential to fast-track access to quality and sometimes life-saving medicines.

Awards of recognition were presented to some individuals for their meritorious contributions to the improvement of the healthcare in Nigeria and the West African sub region.

The awardees included the Prof. I. F. Adewole, Minister for Health, Pharm. Ahmed Yakassai, President of PSN, Mrs. Florence Ajimobi, wife of the Executive Governor of Oyo state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Former Executive Governor Ondo state, Mr. Gbadegesin Yemi Hezekiah Director-General Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology, Pharmacist Elijah Mohammed, the Registrar PCN, the Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly, Honourable Michael Adeyemo and Engineer Aderemi Olaniyan.

Source: Nigeria Today

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