Ethiopia: Pharmaceutical Industries for Improved Medical Facility Supply

by Zelalem

Ethiopian government nurturing pharmaceutical industry to meet local demand.

The national pharmaceutical industries have increased in number through time. Today, Ethiopia has about 24 pharmaceutical manufacturers. Among these, eight of them are engaged in producing only human medicine. However, compared to the medical facilities that the country imported every year by spending high budget, the annual production of the local manufacturers is still insufficient. This happens due to various reasons but mainly caused by low capacity of the industries, believed Aschenaki Asfaw, Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Director at the Ethiopian Food, Beverage and Pharmaceuticals Industry Development Institute.

The sequential assessment of the institute indicated that the manufacturers faced Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) constraints related to qualified personnel, calibrated equipment and poor design of buildings among others, he noted.

On the other hand, the product quality of the industries especially those running under small scale pharmaceutical products getting lower through time and low capacity is the major problem behind the low quality product, believed Samuel Mare, Pharmaceutical Institutions Inspection Expert and Coordinator at the Ethiopian Food, Medicines and Health Care Administration and Control Authority (EFMHACA). The authority inspects the industries to improve the quality of their products through recommending possible solutions. It assesses the industries at least once a year. Accordingly, the country’s local pharmaceutical industries are low in number and they produce insufficient amount of medicines compared to the national demand, Samuel said.

In terms of quantity, the industries cover only 15 percent of the national medicine demand. If the proper capacity building effort exerted, the industries will play significant role in providing various pharmaceuticals and substituting import and saving foreign currency. Therefore, building the capacity of the industries is significant to advance GMP as it is the base to the improvement of quality and quantity of their products.

The manufacturers are assessed and rated based on the quality of their products. This year, a company was suspended for low quality product and returned to its functionality based on the recommendation of EFMHACA. The effort is to enable the industries to comply Good Manufacturing Practice by 2024 said, Yenenesh Kassaye, EFMHACA Medicine Facility Inspection Directorate Foreign GMP Coordinator.

The country needs to install extra similar industries to supply the needed amount of medicines at national level. Beside the capacity building effort, the industries are getting local market from the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency. In the past nine months, the agency has bought 3.4 million Birr worth pharmaceutical facilities to encourage the industries.

In the other way, the under construction industrial parks are attracting foreign investment in the sector. In this regard, the EFMHACA is evaluating regulatory proceedings of some nine foreign and local joint venture companies including from China, Mauritius and Egypt those who want to run pharmaceutical manufacturing in the Kilinto Industrial Park. Two foreign and local venture pharmaceutical companies are also to be established in Debre Birhan and Bishoftu cities, Yenenesh told The Ethiopian Herald. The companies have already got production license.

The inspection to the new installing industries is to bring about a well designed pharmaceutical building as the major cause for low GMP is emanates from the structure, layout and productivity system of the industries.

“The country needs to strongly strive to balance the mismatch between the local production and imported pharmaceutical products through improving its Foreign Direct Investment in the sector,” she added.

In the other way, the Ethiopian Food, Beverage and Pharmaceuticals Industry Development Institute is also doing its level best in recommending the upcoming industries to have a well designed infrastructure to prevent pharmaceutical GMP problems from now. The upcoming foreign manufacturers are significant to substitute import, improve foreign exchange and job creation. They also help the local industries through technological and knowledge transformation, according to Aschenaki.

The industries are important for the availability of the medicinal facility with fair price to the increasing number of demand. The information from the Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Fund and Supply Agency indicated the increasing number of population and growing number of health institutions are the major factors for the increment of the demand.

Therefore, improving the capacity of the local pharmaceutical industries is vital for improved and sufficient medical facility supply. This could be done by the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders’ sequential support and inspection. The improvement of the industries would help to increase supply, substitute import and save foreign currency. Similarly, attracting foreign investment to the sector through knowledge and technology transfer is significant. On the other hand, the country would get the needed benefit from medical facilities export if the sector development plan is realized.

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