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Retreat Report: SIAPS and Directorate of Drugs and Medical Supplies Activity Plan

The Directorate of Drugs and Medical Supplies (DDMS) plays a key role in providing technical guidance and setting strategic direction in policy formulation, service delivery, standards, laws and regulations, and objectives for the pharmaceutical sector in Sierra Leone. It is also involved in stakeholders’ collaboration and coalition building, resource mobilization and deployment of resources, monitoring, and oversight. It is therefore necessary to review and finalize the DDMS structure at all levels to reflect this expanded role, especially with regard to the ongoing decentralization process, the necessary capacity that needs to be developed, and aligning DDMS’ work plan with SIAPS. As part of SIAPS’ system strengthening strategy and by way of addressing the challenges identified during implementation interventions for pharmaceutical supply chain management, SIAPS, in collaboration with DDMS, has identified those topics that would be most valuable for sustained, effective leadership and systems to drive the success of the pharmaceutical sector in Sierra Leone.

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SIAPS’ Technical Assistance to Strengthen Medicines Regulation in Namibia 2011-2017

SIAPS helped improve pharmaceutical product quality by building the capacity of the Namibia Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) to review medicine registration dossiers; inspect pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and finished (imported) products at ports of entry and in the marketplace; to chemically test medicines compliance with established standards; and monitor overall compliance with applicable regulatory standards and norms. In addition, SIAPS supported MOHSS in strengthening the management and regulation of medical devices and support equipment in Namibia, and in revising the National Medicines Policy, a crucial of pharmaceutical regulation and governance. SIAPS supported the reconfiguration of the desk-top Pharmadex tool to a web-based application. In general, the six-year support of the SIAPS project to the NMRC contributed to the strengthening of this regulatory agency, which in turn, contributed to improvements in service delivery to the clients. The registration process improved, to decrease the long-standing backlog of dossiers; PMS ensured safety and quality of pharmaceuticals; and implementation of web-based Pharmadex provided a means for clients/applicants to upload applications and follow up the progress of dossier review, which reduced workload for NMRC staff. SIAPS provided continuous TA for the restructuring of the NMRC.

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Strengthening Medicine Registration in Benin: A Detailed Assessment

In November 2016, at the request of USAID/Benin, SIAPS conducted a rapid assessment of the medicines registration system of the Direction de la Pharmacie, du Médicament et des Explorations Diagnostiques (DPMED) in Benin and made recommendations to address the challenges arising from its current information system. The assessment identified opportunities to improve regulatory processes for the efficient and transparent registration of medicines. The purpose of SIAPS’s technical assistance visit in August 2017 was to conduct a situational analysis regarding the findings and recommendations made after SIAPS conducted a rapid assessment in November 2016. The goal was also to develop appropriate recommendations and a plan for the implementation of Pharmadex software and the management system of the medicines registration process at DPMED, Benin.

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Regulatory Systems Assessment Tool

As the availability of pharmaceutical products in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has improved in recent years, the need for functional national regulatory systems is becoming paramount in ensuring the safety, quality, and efficacy of those products. However, national regulatory authorities in LMICs struggle to fulfill their respective mandates to meet this increasing demand for their services in line with international standards. Outdated legal frameworks, inadequate staffing, inefficient processes, weak information systems, and insufficient financing are among the challenges they face. Increasingly, donors and development agencies are acknowledging the importance of regulatory systems strengthening and are looking for ways to work with national regulatory authorities to define and prioritize their system needs, identify feasible evidence-based and cost-effective system strengthening interventions, and support regulatory authorities to monitor progress toward their goals. RSAT examines the system components and regulatory functions of a national medicines regulatory system. It can be implemented by either National Medicines Regulatory Agency (NMRA) staff for the purpose of self-assessment and monitoring or independent assessors and technical assistance providers that provide support to NMRAs to pinpoint and prioritize the specific areas of the regulatory system that most need improvement to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness. The tool is designed to populate a combination of quantitative and qualitative data from multiple pre-existing sources.

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SIAPS Showcases Key Approaches at Africa’s Medicine Regulation Conference, Accra, Ghana

The 3rd Biennial Scientific Conference on Medical Products Regulation in Africa (SCOMRA), which took place November 27–28, 2017, in Accra, Ghana, focused on “Sustaining the Momentum for Regulatory Harmonization in Africa.” Participants and presenters shared their experiences and lessons learned to contribute to the future of medical products regulation and harmonization in Africa. Staff from the USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program presented posters highlighting the program’s work and key findings. SIAPS’s participation in the conference was critical for highlighting the support the program has offered countries to strengthen their medicine regulatory systems since 2011.

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Rapid Evaluation of the Medicines Registration System in Benin

The director of the Department of Pharmacy, Medicines, and Diagnostics (DPMED) wishes to adopt suitable software to strengthen the registration system for medicines and other health products. Although computerization yields improvements in the management of regulatory information, its effectiveness will largely depend on the presence of adequate medicines registration procedures and the system’s overall compliance with regional and international standards. This rapid evaluation thus seeks to analyze and understand Benin’s regulatory information management system for medicines registration, make appropriate recommendations, and propose an action plan based on emerging outcomes.

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Registration and Quality Assurance of ARVs and other Essential Medicines in Namibia

SIAPS provided technical assistance to facilitate the expedited assessment and registration of new and existing ARV formulations to support the implementation of the revised Namibian ART guidelines (dated January 2014). The technical assistance focused on improving the efficiency of the regulatory system so that the recommended new first-line fixed-dose combination ARVs that contain tenofovir and emtricitabine for adults; optimized ARV formulations for pediatric use; and other medicines for HIV and AIDS; TB; maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH); and other public health diseases are assessed and considered for registration and made available for public procurement in a timely manner to benefit patients undergoing ART.

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Strengthening Capacity for Monitoring and Evaluating Mozambique’s Regulatory System

In Mozambique, SIAPS has been working with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) pharmaceutical department (PD), which functions as the country’s regulatory authority, to strengthen its capacity at the national level. The PD’s main function is to ensure access to safe, effective, and quality pharmaceuticals through the public and private sectors that contribute to the best possible health outcomes. One of the PD’s priorities has been to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system to assess department performance; improve transparency and ensure accountability; help guide the planning, coordination, and implementation of regulatory activities; and foster a culture of evidence-based decision making.

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Situation Analysis: Regulatory Data Management System of Philippines FDA

The goals of this situation analysis were to evaluate the current status of the PFDA’s overall regulatory information management system, with a focus on medicine registration data management, and to develop recommendations and an action plan to cultivate a more robust regulatory information management system, including the required IT solutions to manage licensing of drug establishments and the registration of pharmaceutical products, as well as other operations of the PFDA.

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Technical Highlight: Strengthening Regulatory Systems in Democratic Republic of the Congo to Improve Access to Safe, Effective, and Quality Medicines

Chronic underfunding of the health sector coupled with long-term civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has contributed to insufficient regulatory capacity to effectively manage the registration and approval of new medicines in the country. In partnership with the USAID-funded SIAPS Program, the country’s Ministry of Health supported a number of broad interventions to strengthen DRC’s pharmaceutical regulatory system. SIAPS provides technical assistance to the three national control programs—malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis—to improving access to quality medicines and other commodities and increase the potential for achieving desired health outcomes.

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