Programme for 100% Medicines Availability Launched in Tanzania

Essential medications accessibility is set to achieve 100% by March, one year from now, up from the present 80%, the Medical Stores Department (MSD) guaranteed, today.

The government’s medical supplier also hopes to grow income generation by 48%, from the current 244bn/ – to 360bn/ – in the following three years, through more sales of medications and medical equipment.

The affirmation came a few days back, when the MSD launched the new Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP) to be executed in three years up to 2020. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children, Dr Mpoki Ulisubisya graced the occasion, in Dar es Salaam.

While introducing the agenda, MSD Acting Director for Finance and Planning, Mr Sako Mwakalobo said that the new plan was devised in a way that the MSD works in accordance with new changes brought by the Fifth Phase Government.

He said that the procedures were arranged in a way that by one year from now the nation will see each of the 135 basic medicines being accessible by 100%. However, Dr Ulisubisya challenged them, needing them to accomplish 100% medicine availability by next March, the challenge which the administration acknowledged and guaranteed him that it was realizable.

“We have to ensure stock availability at the headquarters and zones,” he expressed. With the help of technological headway, the MSD aims to eliminate paperwork sort of working; rather, it intends to digitize its functions in the following three years.

“These are objectives we are committed to achieve in the next three years,” he guaranteed the meeting involving MSD zonal managers, department heads and key partners.

Mr Mwakalobo clarified that the determinants behind creating the documents were, among others, embracing those new changes, work on government’s priorities and scale up technology utilization.

Tanzania Aims for Nation-Wide Cervical Cancer Screening

Every public health centre in Tanzania will start giving initial cervical cancer treatment one year from now in an endeavor to battle the destructive ailment, the government announced few days back.

Plans are also at a propelled stage to initiate immunization and vaccination of young girls in the 9-13 years age range against the sickness from next April.

Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Minister Ummy Mwalimu has approached parents by asking not to delay taking their kids for the vaccination.

She remarked, “We hope that by vaccinating them at this age, we will reduce the cervical cancer cases…and, I will demonstrate this by bringing my own daughter for vaccination.”

She was talking at the receipt of materials for cervical cancer preventive action and supplies, given the support from JHPIEGO International association in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Maternal Child Survival Program (MCSP) to enhance the Tanzanian cervical cancer services.

Ms Mwalimu added, “My aim is to have each public health centre providing initial treatment of the cervical cancer by December 2018”, implying that the objective is to screen three million ladies.

There are presently 524 health centres by the government, with just 265 of them offering such services. These centres are at level two, after dispensaries, in grading and reviewing public health facilities.

She believes that it is bad that a woman goes to the clinic for maternal and child healthcare yet neglects to avail the cervical cancer screening facilities and primary treatment.

Speaking about the accomplishment up until now, the minister clarified that the government has scaled up screening and primary treatment administrations. She mentioned, “In the past one year, over 100 new centres were established for screening and provision of initial therapy.”

In every 100 patients arriving at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), 34 of them experience the ill effects of cervical cancer and 12 suffer from breast cancer, as indicated by statistics.

To minimize deaths she stated that the reason as to why it was decided to emphasize more on cervical and breast cancer is because they account for approximately 50% of overall cancer cases.

Around 80% of patients report at ORCI, with the cancer at an advanced stage, prompting mediocre treatment outcomes and most of them succumbing to it.

Jhpiego Tanzania Country Director Jeremie Zoungrana stated, “So, far we have a low number of cervical cancer screening clinics, so there is need to scale up the screening services and improve the accessibility.”

Additionally, there is a need to keep up the standard of screening services, including data quality, he said. USAID noticed that cancer represents a crucial health danger worldwide and the rates of occurrences have escalated in many nations since 1980’s.

Proof demonstrates that cervical cancer remains a main source of cancer-related horror and mortality among ladies, with around 50% of cervical cancer related losses, around the world.

EAC to Develop Single Regulator For Pharmaceuticals

The pharmaceutical division is set to profit by more extensive access to the market following an arrangement by the East African Community (EAC) States to set up a solitary regulatory agency for drugs. Drug firms can then access the 160 million strong EAC market easily as the agency is expected to reduce time and expenses of assessments and approvals of medicines/medical devices.

As of now, new medicines must be assessed by different regional regulatory authorities before being permitted into the market. Under the new arrangement, once an agency approves a medication, it can be sold to all EAC States without national assessments. Dr. Felista Chepwogen from Pharmacy and Poisons Board said, “The focus of the proposed agency will be to regulate selected medicines and medical devices which are complex in nature and require special knowledge and expertise to authorise their use by the population.”

He similarly is appointed as EAC Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Project official. He stated that the timelines for audit and enlistment of medicinal products entering regional level have been drawn out principally because of absence of institutional structures that have legit command to deal with and process applications.

The select medicines may incorporate immunizations, vaccines, genetically modified (GM) products, medical appliances, pharmaceuticals for rare ailments, high-risk food items among others. A secretariat inside EAC’s division of Medicines and Food Safety will organize the joint activities for development of a single pharmaceutical and food safety office. This is expected from 2018 onwards. The proposed agency takes inspiration from the European Medicines Agency which regulates certain pharmaceuticals for 28 European Union nations with a total populace of 510 million.

Since 2015, national drug controllers/regulators of EAC, with the exception of Burundi and South Sudan have been actualizing joint drug assessment and market authorisation protocols, including joint reviews of drug manufacturing sites. Under the joint assessments, firms trying to introduce new medicines within the area, still need to submit applications and pay expenses to all nations separately.

The proposed formation of a solitary regulatory agency looks to dispose of duplication with the goal that applications are made to one organization itself. Dr. Chepwogen remarked, “The joint evaluations of medicines have minimised duplication of efforts and saved resources. The regime has resulted in faster registration timelines for jointly assessed dossier applications. It has also improved capacity for the regulators and the pharma industry.” He repudiated claims of undue slow-downs within the current joint regional assessment of medicines in EAC, saying they are frequently caused by pharmaceutical organizations that don’t react to regulatory questions speedily.

Culmination of Bill Gates’ Support for Cervical Cancer in Tanzania

Access to screening facilities available at existing family planning clinics grows, as cervical cancer cases develop. Anil Tambay, Maries Stopes Tanzania Country Director expressed in Dar es Salaam to acknowledge the culmination of the cervical cancer screening and preventative therapy programme by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

He commented that such family planning programmes were “natural entry points” for preventive measures as both cervical cancer screening and family planning services require a similar target group. He stated, “Family planning integration is an overwhelmingly positive strategy, but it requires robust supervision and logistics systems”.

However, he admitted operational issues did exist. Examples being fragmented funds, faltered coordination amongst clinics and the requirement for standard regular training and supervision of clinical aid providers. This programme was supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria to regulate cervical cancer screening and preventive treatment through reproductive health systems from November 2012 to October 2017.

Mr. Tambay said that more than 187,263 women were screened in a time of 23 months in the country, among them 7,783 were discovered positive and 7,602 obtained cryotherapy. Maria Stopes Tanzania is executing the Tanzania programme, alongside Population Services International (PSI) and Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI).

The Ministry of Health Assistant Director for Reproductive and Child Health, Dr. Hussein Kidanto specified that cervical cancer was a critical public health issue in Tanzania. He said, “Many experts would agree that the high burden of disease and low survival rate among women with cervical cancer in the country is attributed to late disease presentation, diagnosis, and delay in treatment.”

Dr. Kidanto said that cervical cancer could be prevented essentially by raising public awareness, vaccinating adolescent girls of 9-13 years against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is the virus that causes cervical cancer. He said currently there were 466 clinics offering cervical cancer screening and treatment services. These incorporate all provincial, regional, district clinics, some health centres, and dispensaries.