COVID-19: FDA working to approve vaccine amidst second wave

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has revealed that as part of its activities for 2021, it is working with the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health to ensure that a Covid-19 vaccine is approved for use by Ghanaians.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Authority, Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko, once the vaccine is approved, the Ministry of Health will issue a national policy on its deployment and use.

Commenting on the recent spike in cases, however, Mrs. Darko reassured the public of the efficacy of face masks, hand sanitizers, and other PPEs that the Authority has approved for use by the public.

The FDA CEO cautioned suppliers to ensure strict adherence to the approved standards for these products adding that random inspections will be carried out by the Authority as part of its market surveillance activities to ensure compliance.

She also urged the public to observe the COVID-19 protocols of wearing face masks, regular hand washing, and social distancing in the fight against the pandemic.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA issued a 48-hour directive to enable the processing of COVID-19 related products in due time.

Statistics from the FDA revealed a sharp increase in approvals for cosmetic products from 98 products approved in 2018, to 1,825 products approved in 2020.

The increase is a result of the growth in the number of companies producing household chemical substances like antiseptics, disinfectants, and hand sanitizers locally thereby contributing to increased employment opportunities.

The Authority’s Progressive Licensing Scheme (PLS) certification initiative which focused on the food industry last year, targeted 500 enterprises. Out of the target number, 56 SMEs being 11.2% have received certification in the ongoing process.

The Authority indicates that in 2021, the Scheme will be extended to the local cosmetics industry given the quick wins achieved from the PLS for the food industry. The FDA anticipates that SMEs in these sectors will leverage on initiatives like the government’s 1D1F programme and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) to expand their reach beyond our borders.

To further increase the number of registered products namely-food, drugs, cosmetics, household chemicals, medical devices, etc on the market, the FDA as part of its plans for 2021, has reduced its registration fees by 80-90 percent since the beginning of last year. Companies are therefore expected to take advantage of this window to comply with registration requirements.

The FDA also seeks to collaborate with GRA Customs and the Ghana Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) to provide protection for importers whose registration numbers might be used by other importers illegally to process FDA registration requirements.

Additionally, the Authority reiterates that it will continue the ‘Take Back of Unwanted Medicine (TBUM) Project with the aim of taking or retrieving unused and expired medicines from consumers and dispose of them safely as enshrined in the Public Health Act 2012, Act 851. The scope of this project, according to Mrs. Darko, is expected to be extended to other regions.

As part of efforts to win public confidence, the Authority has launched a customer survey platform, to obtain feedback from consumers and clients that will help in streamlining and improving its service delivery system.

To this end, the CEO, Mrs. Darko, charged staff of the FDA to discharge their duties with professionalism underpinned by the Authority’s core values of Integrity, Accountability, and Teamwork.

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