WHO officials in the country to review NDA drugs handling processes

By Alice Lubwama
A team of experts from world health organization is in Uganda for five days to conduct an assessment of the regulatory system of National Drug Authority.

The sixteen man team headed by Sillo Hiiti will assess the registration of drugs and variation of registered products, check on the Inspection and licensing of pharmacies, drug shops and local pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The team will also benchmark on how Uganda National Drug Authority has dealt with those who do not comply with the required standards, and how inspection of consignments of pharmaceutical products at ports of entry into Uganda such as Malaba, Busia, Nakawa and Entebbe is done.

They will assess how the regulatory body controls clinical trials, publications and advertisement relating to drugs.

They will be looking at the system used by National Drug Authority to monitor the quality and efficiency of drugs on the market and how samples from ports of entry into Uganda, pharmacies, drug shops and confiscated drug products are tested.

The head of the assessment team Siilo Hiiti noted that the objective of the assessment is not to only to identify the gaps for improvement but will also recommend the good practices National Drug Authority has in place.

He affirms that the assessment exercise has been done in other countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana,Nigeria and Uganda is the fifth country in the continent to be assessed.

Launching the exercise, the chairman board Uganda National Drug Authority Dr Medard Bitekyerezo asked the assessment team not to leave any stone untouched since the authority staffs is well facilitated to do the work.

Bitekyerezo said if a wonderful audit of the system is made by WHO, it will give them a room for improvement.

“Let truth come out because a very wonderful audit will give us information that we are not doing well and this gives us room for improvement.’’ Bitekyerezo said

The executive secretary National Drug Authority, David Nahamya said that it is an honor for the authority to be subjected to an international assessment by experts drawn from other National drug regulatory agencies and WHO experts globally to alert them on gaps they need to work upon and attain regulatory excellence.

Nahamya has also applauded World Health Organization for the continued support in terms of laboratory equipment, training of its staff, hence the excellence of the Authority.

Long distance truck drivers to attain training

By Wasswa Deo

Over 800 Tracks and Long commercial vehicle drivers are set to receive training in accordance with the East African Community standard curriculum for drivers  a move aimed at reducing accidents that mostly occurs due to human error.

This was announced during the launch of the professional driver training Uganda-project which will run for two years at the facility established in Mukono district.

Deo Kahiigwa who will be among the trainers says, the project will offer both theoretical and practical training to drivers.

According to the World Health Organization’s global status report on road safety 2015, road accidents claim an estimated 10280 lives in Uganda annual. This calls for improved training of drivers, including drivers of large commercial vehicles.

Report indicates that 1.7 million children die due to environmental pollution

Second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation and inadequate hygiene kill at least one in four children every year, according to two new reports published by the World Health Organisation-WHO today.

The first report’ Inheriting a Sustainable World: Atlas on Children’s Health and the Environment reveals that a large portion of the most common causes of death among children aged 1 month to 5 years – diarrhea, malaria and pneumonia; are preventable by interventions known to reduce environmental risks, such as access to safe water and clean cooking fuels.

But failure to take appropriate action has resulted into the death of 1.7 million children annually, according to the reports.

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan says such harmful exposures often start in the mother’s womb increasing the risk of premature birth, an increased risk of pneumonia in childhood, and a lifelong risk of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“A polluted environment is a deadly one – particularly for young children,” Dr Chan says in a statement this morning. “Their developing organs and immune systems, and smaller bodies and airways, make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water.”

A companion report, don’t pollute my future! The Impact of the Environment on Children’s Health, shows that up to 570 000 children under 5 years die from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, attributable to air pollution, and second-hand smoke. Another 361,000 die due to diarrhea, as a result of poor access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The report adds that 270,000 children die during their first month of life from conditions, including prematurity and 200 000 deaths of children die from malaria which could also be prevented through reducing breeding sites of mosquitoes or covering drinking-water storage. A similar number of children die from poisoning, falls, and drowning.

According to the reports, children are equally facing emerging environmental hazards, such as electronic and electrical waste (like old mobile phones) that is improperly recycled, exposing them to toxins which can lead to reduced intelligence, attention deficits, lung damage, and cancer.

There are also increasing rates of asthma in children due to climate change and rising levels of temperatures and carbon dioxide. Children are also exposed to harmful chemicals through food, water, air and products around them.

“A polluted environment results in a heavy toll on the health of our children,” Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health says adding that  improving water quality or using cleaner fuels will result in massive health benefits.





WHO warns of new antibiotic resistant bacteria

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published it’s first-ever catalogue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health.

The list of priority pathogens consisting of 12 families of bacteria was drawn up as of the agency’s efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.

The list highlights in particular the threat of gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to resist treatment and can pass along genetic material that allows other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well.

A statement by the WHO shows that the most critical group of all includes multi-drug resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. They can cause severe and often deadly infections such as bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

These bacteria have become resistant to the best available antibiotics for treating multi-drug resistant bacteria.  The second and third tiers in the list contain other increasingly drug-resistant bacteria that cause more common diseases such as gonorrhea and food poisoning caused by salmonella.

“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options. If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time,” Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, said.

The list is intended to spur governments to put in place policies that incentivize basic science and advanced research and development by both publicly funded agencies and the private sector investing in new antibiotic discovery.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier;

The list was developed in collaboration with the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tübingen, Germany, using a multi-criteria decision analysis technique vetted by a group of international experts.

The criteria for selecting pathogens on the list were: how deadly the infections they cause are; whether their treatment requires long hospital stays; how frequently they are resistant to existing antibiotics when people in communities catch them; how easily they spread between animals, from animals to humans, and from person to person; whether they can be prevented, how many treatment options remain and whether new antibiotics to treat them are already in the pipeline.

Prof Evelina Tacconelli, the Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tübingen and a major contributor to the development of the list says that the new antibiotics targeting this priority list of pathogens will help to reduce deaths due to resistant infections around the world.

“Waiting any longer will cause further public health problems and dramatically impact on patient care,” she adds.

However, tuberculosis – whose resistance to traditional treatment has been growing in recent years – was not included in the list because it is targeted by other, dedicated programmes. Other bacteria that were not included, such as streptococcus A and B and chlamydia, have low levels of resistance to existing treatments and do not currently pose a significant public health threat, the statement adds.

Ministry of health to invest over 500Bn Ugx in implementation of HIV/AIDS test and treat

By Charles Kizindo Lule
Ministry of health is investing 140 millionUS D   in the implementation of the adopted new HIV/AIDS test and treat guidelines launched today.
The AIDS program manager ministry of health Dr Joshua Musinguzi says the 2015 World Health Organization guidelines, anyone who tests HIV/AIDS positive will   immediately  be put Antiretroviral drugs regardless of their CD4 cell count.

WHO announces new DDA drug cures Hepatitis C

More than a million people in low and middle-income countries have been treated with highly effective new drugs for hepatitis C, since its introduction two years ago.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that cases inflammation of the liver. It is transmitted from person to person through unscreened blood transfusions as well as contaminated needles and instruments used for tattooing and body piercing.

The disease can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.

Many of the chronic sufferers treated, have been completely cured said the World Health Organization-WHO on Thursday, during the launch of a report detailing results of a two-year-old programme involving new drugs known as Direct Acting Antivirals, or DAAs.

The new medicines have a cure rate of over 95 percent, and can completely cure the disease within three months. They also have fewer side effects than previously available therapies, according to Gottfried Hirnschall, the director of WHO’s HIV/Global Hepatitis Programme.

But at an initial estimated price of US$ 8500  (29 million Shillings) they were not affordable even in high-income countries.

When the antivirals were first approved in 2013, there were widespread fears that their high price would put them out of reach for the more than 80 million people with chronic hepatitis C infections worldwide. Around 700,000 people die each year from the disease globally.

Dr Gottfried observes that although access still remains beyond the reach for most people, the progress is encouraging.

A range of low- and middle-income countries are beginning to succeed in getting drugs to people who need them, through licensing agreements, local production and price negotiations. The countries include among others, Rwanda, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria.

“Licensing agreements and local production in some countries have gone a long way to make these treatments more affordable,” says Dr Suzanne Hill, WHO Director for Essential Medicines and Health Products.

For example, the price of a three-month treatment in Egypt dropped from US$ 900 (3 million Shillings) in 2014 to less than US$ 200 (684,000 Shillings) in 2016, according to a new Global Report on Access to Hepatitis C Treatment: Focus on Overcoming Barriers, released today.

In May 2016, at the World Health Assembly, 194 countries adopted the first-ever Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, agreeing to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The strategy includes a target to treat 80% of people in need by this date.


Global hearts initiative to save Ugandan from heart diseases

A new initiative seeking to beat back the global threat of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes is to be rolled out in Uganda.

Code-named Global Hearts, the initiative is an alliance between the World Health Organization , the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Heart Federation, the World Stroke Organization, the International Society of Hypertension, and the World Hypertension League.

The project aims to scale up measures to reduce salt and tobacco use and strengthen health care services for dealing with cardiovascular disease.  It will initially be rolled out in Barbados, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Tajikistan, Thailand and Uganda, according to a statement released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

More than 17 million people die annually from cardiovascular disease, making the ailments- the world’s leading cause of death. Uganda loses a total of 353,000 people to cardiovascular diseases every year, according to statistics by the World Health Organisation.

Over three quarters of these are a result of unhealthy behaviors, including tobacco use, eating foods containing too much salt and inadequate physical activity resulting into heart attacks and strokes. The WHO records indicate that the probability of dying between ages 30 and 70 years in Uganda, as a result of cardiovascular diseases, stands at 21 percent.

But the country does not have an operational policy or action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, the burden of tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets, or even a national population-based cancer registry.

WHO Director for the Management of Non Communicable Diseases Dr Etienne Krug says countries like Uganda will be supported to scale up tested, affordable and adaptable measures to make their health services better able to detect and treat people at risk of, or suffering from, heart disease.