The World Health Organisation in 2001 established the WHO Pre-Qualification of Medicines Program (WHO PQ) – a global standard to ensure medicines are safe and properly produced. It guarantees that drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, vector-control products, and devices used for the prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of priority diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are safe, appropriate, and meet stringent quality standards. WHO Pre-qualification is the backbone of global health procurement. It aims to provide quality, safe and efficacious medicines for the United Nations’ (UN) procurement agencies and to countries for bulk purchasing and distribution of medicines in resource-limited countries.
After over two decades of this program, African countries are still lagging behind and hence losing out in the large procurement of various public health programs even though they are the beneficiaries of these programs. Apart from the public health implication this situation poses, which became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a significant missed opportunity economically. For some reason, there has been very limited commitment to change this situation.
One significant barrier to achieving WHO PQ by most manufacturers in Africa is the poor technical support and limited expertise about achieving WHO PQ. Most Nigerian pharmaceutical companies have limited information on the specific requirements for WHO PQ and the application process. Attaining WHO PQ is a highly technical process, requiring comprehensive technical and professional support from experts in the field.
To address the challenges of WHO PQ in Nigeria, Nigeria’s National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and its technical partner Bloom Public Health, in a World Bank-funded initiative, Immunization Plus and Malaria Progress by Accelerating Coverage and Transforming Services (IMPACT) will be supporting selected Nigerian pharmaceutical manufacturing companies who produce malaria medications to achieve WHO PQ.
This project is by far Nigeria’s biggest pharmaceutical intervention and will achieve the first-ever WHO PQ of pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria. It will have a tremendous impact on the Nigerian health system by increasing the availability of quality-assured medicines and building national capacity for sustainable manufacturing and monitoring of quality medicines, as well as position the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria as a global competitor. Above all other donor-funded projects (including Global Fund, USAID etc) will be able to leverage this program for local procurement of WHO pre-qualified products in the country. The health and economic impact of this intervention cannot be overemphasized.
Below are news excerpts of the Programme Launch at the prestigious Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos Nigeria, on April 28, 2023.