Harare, 25 June 2014/ TH/ ACP: About 15 African member states of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) are in Harare for a three-day conference meant to strengthen availability and affordability of pharmaceutical products in the region. Working under the banner "Renewed Partnership Project", the conference seeks to deliberate on gaps and strengths in the implementation of national medicines policies, regulations and practices, improving access and use of quality assured medicines.

Officially opening the conference yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa said drugs and medicines were a crucial pillar in the healthcare delivery system.

He commended the role played by the renewed partnership project for making an impact in the healthcare delivery system of Zimbabwe.

"By using its comparative advantage based on its core functions, WHO is utilising the EU/ACP/WHO renewed partnership grant in supporting the development of norms, standards and guidelines, improving access to information and expertise in the pharmaceutical sector," said Minister Parirenyatwa.

He urged the pharmaceutical experts to carry out research on safety and effectiveness of traditional medicine.

"About 80 percent of our people here in Zimbabwe use traditional medicine and there is need to carry out research of its safety and effectiveness," he said.

WHO director for essential medicines and health products Mr Kees de Joncheere said the renewed partnership project was expected to contribute to the achievements of health-related Millennium Development Goals and help realise universal coverage in partner countries.

He said to accomplish this endeavour, the project supported improvement in the availability, affordability and use of safe, effective and quality-assured essential medicines.

The overall budget of the project is 10,8 million euros and is expected to run over a period of four years between 2012 and 2016.

The 15 countries that make up the ACP renewed partnership project are Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

– Paidamoya chipunza, The Herald (Zimbabwe)