While National Drug Authority is celebrating its 25 anniversary, the Minister of Health, Dr, Jane Ruth Aceng believes that medicines are some of the most regulated commodities globally as they impact on both human and animal health. “There is increasing public demand for medicines regulation to ensure safe, effective and quality medicines are accessed. NDA has had to evolve to meet this public demand. In Uganda, the Government has invested a lot of effort and resources in medicines regulation on an ever increasing scale to ensure that that the population (human and animal) continues to have progressively better health outcomes. This will continue because the health of the people and their animals is a priority to this Government,” the minister said. There is a belief that in order to harness synergies and facilitate regional and international collaboration, NDA has embraced medicines harmonization, mutual recognition procedures with the East African Community (EAC), World Health Organization (WHO), World Animal Health Organization (OIE) among others. Opportunities in the new technologies in the information and communication sector present opportunities to reach out to the masses with health information. What we have to ensure is that the information should be accurate, balanced and beneficial. A drug is medicine only when it is accompanied with the right information to ensure its proper handling and use; otherwise the same has the potential to cause serious harm if the right information is not properly communicated. NDA has ensured that it uses current media platforms such as social media, electronic and print media to ensure there is continuous information to the public on medicines. Social media platforms have also enabled NDA to tap into the generation that uses these platforms to obtain medicine related information. Therefore, NDA has developed strategic partnerships with different media houses to ensure the right medicines related information is relayed to the public. NDA has Taken advantage of ICT as the Authority has strengthened transparency and accountability through the implementation of the National Drug Authority Management Information System (NDAMIS). This one-stop system that fully enables customer self-service enhancements that facilitate uploading applications, follow-up and query response for most regulatory services offered by NDA which is a step in the right direction towards customer focus. Advancement in veterinary and human medicines The world is changing and science is dynamic. NDA as an organization is embracing continuous training and skills development to match new knowledge in the medical and veterinary fields. This will ensure that as a country our human resource in medicines regulation is kept abreast with the changing trends in medical and veterinary science to deal with emerging and re-emerging health challenges. In a Q&A, Minister Aceng rates NDA highly and thanks to the staff and board for the commendable job that has been done since its inception 25 years ago… Qn: What do you make of NDA@25 years of existence? Is the organization still relevant given too many critics? National Drug Authority has done commendable work over the last 25 years and has grown into a regional and global Centre of excellence in medicines regulation. The criticism in my own view comes from the high expectations that the public has of NDA as an organization sometimes even beyond their legal mandate and this is normal. The criticism has always been taken positively for continued improvement to meet public expectations. The criticism globally on National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) springs from the increased public demand for quality public health care to which NDA contributes through the execution of its mandate. – The mandate of NDA is to ensure the availability at all times of efficacious and cost-effective drugs to the entire population (human and animal) of Uganda as a means of providing satisfactory health care and safeguarding the appropriate use of drugs. control of manufacture, production, importation, exportation, marketing and use of drugs as among some of the functions given to it by the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, Cap. 206. Qn: How do you rate the performance of NDA -The performance of NDA has been very good generally and that is why government assented to the cabinet principles that are guiding the transformation of NDA to the National Food and Drug Authority (NFDA). National Food and Drug Authorities globally regulate a range of products which include: drugs (human and veterinary), devices (human and veterinary), chemicals (agro-chemicals, industrial and laboratory), food, herbal medicines, and cosmetics. Regulation of most of these mentioned products has faced regulatory gaps which poses a risk to the population if not well regulated. Qn: What else do you have to say about NDA As NDA celebrates25 years of service, I take this opportunity to thank the current, past members of the Authority and staff for their dedicated service which has made NDA come this far. Government and the Ministry of Health pledge commitment to support NDA in the execution of its mandate.