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08.11.2010 General News

Government to deal with drug menace on water bodies

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Accra, Nov. 4, GNA - The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, on Thursday announced plans to collaborate with stakeholders to deal with the contamination of water bodies through drugs and other medical products.

Ms Sherry Ayittey, the sector Minister, who unveiled the measures said: "I never considered that water bodies could be contaminated by drugs."

She was addressing the Global Eco-pharmacovigilance workshop in Accra on the topic: "Drugs and the Environment: The Development Country Perspective.

"I will add up the issue to the agenda of the Ministry," Ms Ayittey stressed.

Ghana is hosting the 33rd Annual Meeting of Countries participating in the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring and the 10th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Pharmacovigilance (ISoP).

Both meetings are being attended by leading experts on drug safety in the world - from Africa, the US, the European Union, Australasia and Asia.

Ms Ayittey expressed concern about the menace posed by counterfeit medicines, which she described as "poisons which kill millions of people".

She said the fight against counterfeit drugs should not focus only in identifying the perpetrators and prosecuting them, but also utilising the most environmentally sound means of disposing the products.

"Everyone knows these products are bad in the first place. Why should they…be dumped in the environment without due consideration to the most effective ways of detoxifying them and making them safe?"

Ms Ayittey called on the global pharmaceutical industries to support developing countries to develop the much needed mechanisms to augment the fight against counterfeit medicines.

She also expressed the need for the production of green pharmaceutical products, which do not persist forever in the environment.

"We all know that the pharmaceutical industry can develop green drugs including biodegradables."

The Minister asked corporate entities working in developing countries to adhere to high environmental standards, adding: "Anything less than this is disingenuous and morally unacceptable.

She called on physicians not to limit their attention to expanding scientific knowledge in a rapidly evolving area and act as advocates to help reduce the ambient contamination of the air.

"My Ministry has a policy of ensuring strict adherence to global best practices in environmental management…We just cannot take issues on the environment lightly and the pharmaceutical industry is one of the key partners whose co-operation and assistance we would greatly value," she said.

This is the first time that major global drug safety events are being held in sub-Saharan Africa and the choice of Ghana reflects the increasing stature attained by the country in Global Drug Safety, a statement issued by ISoP) stressed.

In November 2009, the WHO established a Collaborating Centre for Drug Safety at the University of Ghana Medical School and the WHO Collaborating Centre in Uppsala, Sweden has also established an office in Accra.

The WHO is a normative agency for all countries whilst ISoP is a scientific organisation that aims to foster global drug safety and enhance all aspects concerning the proper use of medicines. ISoP is a non-profit global drug safety organisation with membership in all the five continents.

More than 500 participants representing pharmacovigilance professionals from across the globe are attending the meeting on the theme: "Pharmacovigilance in the Global Village."

The meeting is examining pharmacovigilance practices across the globe with a view to sharing best practices, highlighting common challenges and developing broad principles for dealing with them.

Dr Alexander Dodoo, President of ISoP said the theme is relevant considering the increasing incidence of fake medicines and concerns about drug safety worldwide.

He said the meeting constitutes the largest gathering of Pharmacovigilance professionals with a unique platform to share information on patient safety and related pharmacovigilance topics such as "signal detection, safety of vaccines, regulatory update and risk management."

This is in addition to new hot topics including "ecopharmacovigilance and forensic pharmacovigilance as well as medication errors and risk communication, which are not well covered in other pharmacovigilance meetings".


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