The role of local manufacturers in improving access to essential medicines: the case of Uganda
Posted on 19 February 2010
The local manufacture of pharmaceuticals is a hotly contested issue in many countries. It runs to the heart of key concerns such as quality, availability and price of medicines (as well as the broader issues of economic development and trade). Within the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) – a multi-stakeholder initiative that has the active participation of government, the private sector and civil society working together to solve problems and improve transparency and accountability around access to medicines in seven countries – this debate is active. In a recent article for Africa Health, Nazeem Mohamed, Chair of the MeTA Uganda National Council and Chairman of the Uganda Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association (UPMA) sets out some of the arguments of the local manufacturers.
In Uganda, five large and six small-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing companies operate. This number, if functioning at full capacity, is capable of meeting the demand for supply of many of the essential drugs to the population of Uganda. However, in practice, this is not happening. The industry continues to face challenges that threaten its growth, and even, potentially, its existence.
The Uganda Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association (UPMA) is a registered association in Uganda of registered companies licensed by the National Drug Authority to operate a pharmaceutical manufacturing business in Uganda. The pharmaceutical industry in Uganda is made up of the local pharmaceutical manufactures, importers, wholesalers and retailers and the Government through its regulatory arm. Civil society organisations also have a role to play in advocating for change in the medicines industry and to hold people to account. The multiple actors involved make it a complex industry in which to initiate change. It is for this reason that UPMA are participating in MeTA Uganda.
The challenges that local industry face are not small. Many difficult conditions including high costs of operations and energy, and unfair competition have a multiplier effect resulting in stagnation and denying opportunities to contribute to the growth of the economy through job creation and investments.
Read the full article here