Home NewsNational EAC Embarks On Implementing Minilabs Project

EAC Embarks On Implementing Minilabs Project

by Daniel Sabiiti
1:31 am

Rwanda minilab kits

The East African Community (EAC) Regional Centre of Excellence (EAC RCoE) in collaboration with EAC Secretariat has handed over 16 minilab kits to improve regional efforts to fast-track the elimination of counterfeit medicines on the regional market.

The Minilab equipment and accessories were handed over in Kigali this August 18, 2023, to six EAC member states including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, and the United Republic of Tanzania following an intensive training of two staff from each country.

The Minilab project is an initiative of the University of Rwanda/ East Africa Community Regional Centre of Excellence for Vaccines Immunization and Health Supply Chain Management (UR/EAC RCE-VIHSCM) and the EAC Secretariat.

The project received a generous grant worth €400,000 from the Federal Government of Germany, the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Development Bank (KfW) to be implemented till 2026.

Minilab technology-made in Germany is a portable and relatively low-cost tool designed to help screen the quality of medicines in resource-limited settings. It helps to quickly assess and detect counterfeit and substandard medicines anywhere any time without the lab.

“They will be sharing the screening results with the EAC RCE-VIHSCM every quarter which in turn, will analyze the data and pass information/ evidence to the EAC Partner States to act on offending substandard and falsified medicines (SFM),” Françoise Kayitare Tengera, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Finance at university of Rwanda said.

The latest UN’s transnational organized crime threat assessment warns that out of the 500,000 deaths, up to 169,271 deaths are linked to fake and substandard antibiotics used to treat severe pneumonia in children, and 267,000 deaths per year are linked to fake and substandard antimalarial medicines.

“This will help plug seepage through our porous borders of SFM but hasten the sharing of life-saving information across our countries,” Kayitare said.

Officials at the handover

She revealed that the long-term strategic goal is to build a strong EAC Pharmacovigilance and Post-Market Surveillance (PMS) Observatory, set up the EAC Pooled Procurement Mechanism- for which the EAC RCE-VIHSCM has already acquired catalytic funding of €2 million.

Dr. Eric Nzeyimana, EAC Principal Health Officer said that this project needs collaboration in partner states in order to succeed especially with the establishment of centers of excellence.

“The minilabs are going to make a great difference in the way we control our products and this will result in, of course, better access to quality medicines and medical products,” Nzeyimana said.

Under the project, the EAC RCE-VIHSCM is spearheading the implementation of the project, ensuring the coordination, training, and transfer of knowledge among the benefiting institutions in close collaboration with Tübingen University in Germany and Muhimbili University of Allied Sciences (MUHAS).

At the handover ceremony, 12 FDA and NMRA specialists from EAC were handed certificates of merit and will act as trainers of trainees (ToT) in their respective countries where minilab technology exists but in small numbers compared to the need.

Dr. Stephen Karengera, the Director of EAC RCE-VIHSCM

Dr. Raymond Muganga, the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority Division Manager of Quality Control Laboratory said that their staff have been doing visual inspection but minilabs as a secondary level of testing medicine standards will improve their efficiency in analyzing health products.

Dr. Stephen Karengera, the Director of EAC RCE-VIHSCM said that the future plan is to support the region with more equipment to reach more areas, especially at the health center level to enable the region to reduce the current 25% counterfeit meds on the market.

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