Presidents Sirleaf, Gnassingbé Hail ECOWAS Parliament

For Tackling Counterfeit Medicines:

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (right) and her Togolese counterpart, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, who will succeed her as ECOWAS Authority Chair in June

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Togolese counterpart, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, have expressed gratitude to the ECOWAS Parliament for its fight against counterfeit medical products and expired drugs in the sub-region.

The two presidents, who visited the ongoing meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Social Services, Trade, Customs and Free Movement of the ECOWAS Parliament in Monrovia, made separate remarks on Wednesday, April 12, which marked the 3rd day of the meeting.

President Sirleaf said she and President Gnassingbé, who is also the Coordinator of the ECOWAS Post Ebola Agenda that is visiting the country, discussed the post Ebola recovery programs of the three countries worst hit by the Ebola outbreak, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

President Sirleaf will step down as the chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Governments on June 4, while President Gnassingbé will takeover.

Gnassingbé thanked President Sirleaf for her level of contribution to ECOWAS over the years.

The Joint Committee of the ECOWAS Parliament will today, Thursday, adopt the resolution after listening to presentations from the West African Health Organization, an expert Davis Sumo and former Sinoe County Senator Mobutu Nyenpan.

The resolution was drafted after the members deliberated with members of the Joint Committee; and it will be forwarded to the Plenary of the 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament in May, and then forwarded to President Sirleaf, who is the Head of ECOWAS Authority.

Meanwhile, the Specialized Institution of ECOWAS responsible for health issues – the West African Health Organization (WAHO), has announced that in order to have quality and safe medicines in the region, a Medicines Regulation Authority must be established.

WAHO said the main task of the authority will be to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of pharmaceuticals, health and personal care products that are marketed.

WAHO’s Director of Epidemic and Disease Control, Dr. Carlos Brito, made the presentation on Tuesday, April 11, at a resort in Monrovia during the 2nd day of the meeting of the Joint Committee on Health and Social Welfare, Trade, Customs, and the free movement of the ECOWAS Parliament.

He said the objective of the authority will also include registration of pharmaceutical products, licensing of premises of importers and manufacturers, monitoring the quality of registered products in the market and adverse drug reaction monitoring.

Dr. Brito said a subdivision within the authority will be the National Medicines Quality Control Laboratory, which will assist in drug registration and inspection, controlling the quality of medical supplies, developing and implementing plans for the continual training of the technicians of the laboratory, as well as to develop a quality assurance policy.

“WAHO’s efforts to ensure quality and safe medicines will be supporting local production, implementing the stock of security,” Dr. Brito said. “The establishment of the stock security must support the local production and must be value added to development policy.”

According to the WAHO, counterfeit and illegal medicines are poisonous and cause treatment failures (antimicrobial resistance, anti-malarial resistance).

“Counterfeit medical product means a medical product, whether branded or generic, that is falsely labeled with respect to identity or source and includes a medical product without the correct active ingredient or with insufficient quantity or active ingredient with any misrepresentation in respect of the medical product,” the ECOWAS Counterfeit Legal Directive stated.

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