The Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda has noted that the Cabinet’s decision taken on October 7, 2019 to create a separate authority for the regulation of veterinary medicines will lead to duplication of resources among other things.
According to the council, the regulation of veterinary medicines which covers inspection, licensing, registration, import, distribution, post-market surveillance, pharmaco vigilance and drug analysis requires the same framework and resources as human medicines.
It adds that the framework and the resources area already available with the National Drug Authority (NDA) and only require strengthening.
The National Food and Medicines Authority Bill which is aimed at strengthening the regulation of both human and animal medicines according to the council has already been drafted and undergone extensive stakeholders’ input over the last five years.
Therefore, the passing of “this Bill into law should be expedited instead of drafting new bills.”
The move is claimed to bring efficiency in the regulation of the sector and improve marketability of Uganda’s livestock and animal products abroad.
The council also states that the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) are promoting one health philosophy due to cross-linkages between animal and human diseases which they belief will promote the contravention of one health approach and its best practices.
Notably, more than 75% of infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic (diseases passed on from an animal or insect to a human) in origin. The one health approach such as having a single drug control agency is a key strategy for their effective prevention and control.
“This is already being applied in the following top beef and livestock producing and exporting countries, namely; USA, Brazil, Australia, India and in Africa Namibia, all of whom have one drug regulatory agency.
Other concerns expressed by the body include; Weakening the fight against antibiotic resistance and drug residues in animal products, conflict and double standards due to overlaps in human and veterinary medicines, risk of a weak veterinary drug authority and the challenges in the veterinary sector which are not solely poor drug regulation, but bad farming practices.
In Uganda, just like is the case in several other countries, a medicines regulatory agency is established to perform regulatory oversight in the development, production (manufacture), importation, distribution, exports, supply and use of medicinal products.
To ensure and maintain the integrity of the supply chain of medicinal products, several controls have to be instituted. These controls extend across various sectors that may directly have an impact on the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines. Importantly, veterinary medicines are a critical health commodity that undergoes regulation under this regime.
The council therefore recommends that the government should invest in creating an enabling environment that supports the relationship between professional veterinarians, pharmacists and paraprofessionals to ensure the timely reporting, treatment and control of animal diseases.
It also trusts that provision of veterinary extension services should not focus solely on household ‘heads’, but also on other household members, such as wives and children, and on herdsmen who actually handle animals on daily basis.
“Strong government engagement is required in the provision of veterinary services for pastoral or extensive livestock production systems, because normal market forces have failed to attract professional veterinarians”
The council adds that; “Farmers must be empowered to hold veterinary service providers accountable, by measuring the quality of services that they receive and to verify the qualifications of different service providers to eliminate quacks.”