Cabinet moves to transform the National Drug Authority (NDA) into a National Food and Drug Authority (NFDA).
Rose Namayanja, the Minister of Information and National Guidance noted this as one of the decisions made by a cabinet meeting held on Thursday.
Namayanja said that cabinet approved NDA’s transformation in order to broaden the authority’s regulatory mandate to encompass items currently not provided for under the National Drug Policy and Authority Act of 1993.
She noted that the new items to be regulated by the NFDA besides drugs include food and feeds, food supplements, cosmetics, medical and veterinary devices, health care products, public health products, blood and biological products and related substances.
On cosmetics, she noted that those known to contain hazardous skin lightening chemicals like mercury and hydroquinone are not to be tolerated under the new NFDA.
Namayanja noted that some of these cosmetics are already exposing some of Ugandans to health risks citing diabetes, hypertension, kidney ailments and heart disease.
She said that NFDA will now be a one stop center regulator saying that cabinet realized that the country currently has a multi-agency food safety control system with limited coordination and that as a result food safety and quality infrastructure have been disjointed.
Namayanja noted that the action points arising from the transformation of NDA into NFDA are the adoption of an integrated approach for regulation of food and medicines, establishment and maintenance of an effective national food and medicines safety control system.
She explained that the system will be managed by government with central direction and coordination with synchronized efforts of all actors involved in food and medicines production, distribution and control in the country.
She added that the private sector will be required to conform to the standards set by government and to produce or distribute items safe for public consumption.
Namayanja also revealed that the membership to the Board of NFDA will now be expanded to include experts in the areas of food and medicine safety and quality in order to enable it perform the expanded mandate.
Cabinet has now directed the Ministry of Health to urgently commence the process of drafting amendments to the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, 1993 to pave way for the creation of the NFDA.
Namayanja said that when the bill gets to Parliament, Cabinet will also appeal for bi-partisan support due to the urgency to enhance protection of Ugandan citizens.
Under NFDA, penalties will be provided to deter illegal practices, combat and minimize sub-standard, counterfeit, expired foods, medicines and related hazardous products in Uganda.
Namayanja also noted that a comprehensive integrated national food and medicine safety control system for consumer protection and fair trade will be established.
Meanwhile, The National Drug Authority was established as a regulatory body responsible for regulation of drugs in Uganda.
It was established by the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDP/A) Act, Cap. 206 to ensure the availability at all times of essential, efficacious and cost effective drugs to the entire population of Uganda as a means of providing satisfactory health care and safeguarding the appropriate use of drugs.