International experts meet in Accra on drug safety

drugsTwenty African countries are attending a week-long meeting, spanning November 25 – November 29 in Accra to analyse the problems of patient safety in Africa and discuss solutions for the future.

The meeting is being hosted by World Health Organisation (WHO), Geneva, and the WHO Collaborating Centre for Advocacy and Training in Pharmacovigilance (WHO-CC), Accra, Ghana.

Participants at the meeting include public officials, health administrators and academia who are committed to develop more effective systems of safety surveillance throughout the continent.

Everywhere in the world, patients sometimes suffer from adverse reactions to drugs (ADRs), which may be minor or fatal, even when using medicines that have been approved under stringent regulatory control.

The science for detecting and managing such risks is known as pharmacovigilance. Such safety systems in Africa are often relatively unknown or weak in operation.

Many safety problems such as ADRs, counterfeit medicines, interactions with traditional medicines and others may go undetected and so lead to further suffering among patients.

Good reporting and surveillance systems can prevent much harm to patients.

“In Africa, we are struggling to put pharmacovigilance and patient safety high on the agenda of healthcare priorities and resource allocation and in pharmaceutical manufacturing,” says Ms Haggar Hilda Ampadu, Director of Operations of the WHO- CC.

After half a day of the meeting, some major priorities that have emerged are: convincing ministers of health that medicine safety systems are a high priority on grounds of social health and economics and raising awareness of patient safety throughout healthcare, especially doctors, nurses and pharmacists and among the public.

Another priority is: ensuring that pharmacovigilance and patient safety are given significant attention in all medical curricula.

Professor Alex Dodoo, Director of the WHO CC and a renowned expert on the safety of medicines and vaccines said: “We look forward to some meaty proposals for reform and action by the end of the week to ensure that everyone who uses medicines and medical products in Africa is safe and feels well protected.”

Source: GNA

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