The Parliamentary Select Committee on Health on Thursday, 9th November, 2017, paid a working visit to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). The visit afforded the parliamentarians the opportunity to appreciate the activities and challenges of the FDA.

As part of the visit, the parliamentarians toured the FDA’s new ultra-modern office complex building project under construction in Tema as well as its ISO certified laboratory facility at the Head Office in Accra.

At the new office complex site, the contractor told the Parliamentary Select Committee that the building is a seven storey office complex that has two basement level underground car parks. He further indicated that the ground floor of the building have been constructed in a manner that would allow the occupancy of different institutions in case the FDA decides to rent out part of the building. The other floors have also been built in a way that could allow for easy conversion into other suitable uses and an open top floor that could also be used for social gatherings.

On the timeline for the completion of the project, the contractor informed them that the project was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of November, 2017 but due to financial constraints, that could not be achieved. The contractor however assured them that if the needed funds are made available, the project would be completed in six (6) months’ time.

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of the FDA, Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko, also informed the Parliamentarians that the building, when completed would supplement the office space at the Head Office and would further enhance the operational activities of the FDA, especially within the Accra-Tema Metropolis. She also indicated funding as the main challenge militating against the completion of the project on schedule.

Mrs. Darko also stated that the new office building is strategically sited close to the Tema Harbor to make it easier for clients to contact the FDA.

Hon. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, thanked the contractor for his co-operation and commitment towards the completion of the project and assured him of the committee’s support to do all within its means to ensure fund is made available for the successful completion of the project.

The committee also toured the state of the art laboratory of the FDA where they were briefed on the various activities that the laboratory undertake. The Members of the Select Committee on Health were glad to hear from Mr. Victor Ofori Antwi, the Head of Quality Assurance, who conducted the Parliamentarians through their tour at the Laboratory that the FDA’s Laboratory is ISO certified and the first (1st) in Africa to have the largest scope in terms of accreditation.

At the medical devices laboratory, the Select Committee were briefed on the tests that are conducted on products such as condoms (male/female), gloves, needles, syringes, cotton wool, gauze, bandages and biomedical test kits among some other medical devices the Authority regulates.

The committee then visited the Microbiological Laboratory where the functions were also clearly spelt out to them. It was mentioned to them that this Laboratory determines the microbial content of all regulated products (food substances including alcoholic beverages, herbal preparations and some medical devices) before recommendations for approval are made.

It was disclosed to the Parliamentarians at the Drug Physico-Chemical Laboratory that the checking of the efficacy and standard of drugs is the core purpose of this Laboratory.

There were also presentations made by some Divisional and Departmental Heads on the activities, achievements and challenges of the FDA. The activities of the FDA include the product registration, inspection and licensing of premises of manufacturers (local and foreign), market surveillance to detect and rid the market of non-conforming products, product quality monitoring and investigation into suspected therapeutic failure, product quality defects and consumer complaints.

The FDA also supervises safe disposal, controls of advertisements, conducts public education/awareness and enforcement activities which includes raids, detention/seizures, arrests and prosecution of offenders.

The major challenges as detailed by the various Divisional and Departmental Heads are the lack of human resource and financial constraints which are preventing the FDA from achieving its set targets.

The influx of alcoholic beverages and herbal medicines on the Ghanaian market and the claims being made on them were an area of concern for the Parliamentarians. The Parliamentarians were however assured by the Mrs. Darko that the FDA is putting in place all the regulatory measures as well as the stakeholder collaboration to curtail the menace and in no time, these would be a thing of the past.

The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health thanked the FDA on behalf of the committee and gave assurance of the committee’s support to ensure the FDA is strengthened and resourced adequately to achieve its mandate of protecting public health and safety at all times.

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