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Nigeria, Egypt join Ghana, Tanzania as WHO’s regulators of reference

By Chukwuma Muanya, Sunday Aikulola (Lagos) and Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja)
31 March 2022   |   3:24 am
Nigeria and Egypt have joined Ghana and Tanzania as effective regulatory systems in Africa. The World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, announced that the two new entrants’ medical products regulatory ...

World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, May 22, 2006. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files<br />

•‘We are out of crisis, not out of COVID-19’
•Women, newborns get global help for six-week postnatal

Nigeria and Egypt have joined Ghana and Tanzania as effective regulatory systems in Africa. The World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, announced that the two new entrants’ medical products regulatory agencies had achieved Maturity Level 3. This means that these national bodies have been found to function well and could be eligible for inclusion into the transitional WHO Listed Authorities, a list that comprises the world’s regulators of reference – that is regulatory authorities – that should be globally recognised as meeting international standards.

A statement, yesterday, by the global agency, indicated that North African nation attained Maturity Level 3 for vaccines regulation (locally produced and imported) and Nigeria for medicines and imported vaccines, even as several other regulators on the continent are undergoing assessment.

WHO said its assessment of regulatory authorities is based on the ‘ Global Benchmarking Tool’ – an evaluation tool that checks regulatory functions against a set of more than 260 indicators – covering core regulatory functions such as product authorisation, testing of products, market surveillance and ability to detect adverse events to establish their level of maturity and functionality.

A WHO-lead team of international experts carried out the benchmarking of Egypt and Nigeria’s regulators. In February and March 2022, the organisation conducted a formal evaluation of the authorities and found them to perform well against most of the indicators in the Global Benchmarking Tool.

Both countries were also chosen in February as recipients of mRNA technology from the WHO mRNA Technology Transfer Hub.

“Egypt and Nigeria have come a long way to improve their regulatory work and performance,” said Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Health Products.

Also confirming the categorisation yesterday in Abuja, Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, observed that the agency was the third country in Africa and one of the very few in the world to achieve the feat.

She said the Maturity Level 3 had strengthened NAFDAC’s move for “manufacturing of vaccines through our manufacturers, including the Covid-19 vaccine.”

In the meantime, the new vaccine laboratory being built in Oshodi, Lagos State is to be ready by the middle of this year or first week of the third quarter. NAFDAC had got N4 billion to equip the facility.

Adeyeye observed that the WHO team is to visit every three years for monitoring, stressing that the agency had no fears, as it had put in place a template to sustain the categorisation, just as she added that attainment of Mmaturity Level 4 was next in sight.

HOWEVER, Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has stated that Nigeria has not yet overcome COVID-19, but only out of crisis.

Speaking at the 54th Annual Scientific Conference & General meeting of Nigerian Society of Neurological Sciences (NSNS), in Lagos, yesterday, clarified that Nigerians “are out of crisis because after four waves, we now understood the protocols and how to manage COVID-19, but with the new variants and mutations, we still need to be careful.”

Chairman of the event and Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunibe Mamora, represented by Director of Clinical Services of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Olugbenga Owoeye, stressed collaboration in developing an effective strategy.

In his lecture on “Closing the Epilepsy Treatment Gap, Prof. Bola Adamolekun of University of Tennessee Health Science Centre, United States stated that ailment affects more than 70 million people worldwide, mostly in middle and low income countries.

Chairperson, LOC NSNS 2022, Prof. Njideka Okubadejo, argued that neurological disorders remain the leading cause of morbidity globally and a very significant cause of mortality cutting across communicable and non-communicable diseases.

BESIDES, WHO has issued its first global guidelines to help women and newborns during the six-week postnatal period.

According to the global health body, more than one in every ten women and babies worldwide do not currently receive postnatal care in the first days after birth when majority of maternal and infant deaths occurs.

In a statement yesterday, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, Anshu Banerjee, observed that quality maternity and newborn care does not stop at birth.