The Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) has hailed government for approving a new agency for the regulation of agrochemicals, food, veterinary medicines, devices and cosmetics.
Cabinet on Monday 8 May 2023, approved the proposed amendments to the National Drug Policy and Authority Act, creating a new body responsible for overseeing the quality of agricultural and veterinary health inputs. This role was formerly under the National Drug Authority (NDA).
“The Uganda Veterinary Association congratulates its members upon their appointment on NAGRC & DB Board, in the same way wishes to appreciate cabinet on the approval of a new agency for the regulation of agrochemicals, food, veterinary medicines, devices and cosmetics,” said UVA President Daniel Kasibule. Among those named on the new NAGRC & DB board is UVA treasurer Dr Ben Ssenkera.
Several members of the veterinary association also shared their gratitude for the cabinet decision.
” Special thanks to the president of republic of Uganda H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his cabinet, The Special Committee on the use of agrochemicals and veterinary inputs, National Drug Authority board and managment plus all stakeholders in this milestone of achievement in the livestock industry. We wish you all the best as we endeavour to better our services,” said a UVA member.
The new body, named the Food, Animal, and Plant Health Authority, will be under the Ministry of Agriculture with the mandate to regulate food, veterinary medicines, vaccines, devices, agrochemicals, and all therapeutic products for plant and animal health.
NDA new role
This decision was made following a Ministry of Health request to make changes to the law, which creates the NDA responsible for overseeing all health-related inputs, including humans, agriculture, and veterinary.
According to Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister for Information and National Guidance, “the request has been before the cabinet for more than three sittings, until Monday 8 May 2023 when the decision was taken”.
The amendments to the law have been worked on by the Ministries of Agriculture, Animal Indutsry and Fisheries and Ministry of Health with a view to regulating this sector more effectively. There have been concerns about how the NDA has been performing its work, hence the need for a new body to oversee these areas.
The NDA will remain under the Ministry of Health and will focus solely on regulating human medicines, vaccines, medical devices, public health products, nutritional supplements, and any other human health pharmaceutical supplies.
Hon. Minister Chris Baryomunsi explained that the process to amend this law has taken many years, and this decision is aimed at strengthening the regulation of veterinary drugs and vaccines to give plant and animal health its due prominence.
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), which performs similar roles, will continue its mandate over any other products on the market except those under the NDA, the new body, or any other specialized agency established by law.
The decision to create this new body comes at a time when the government is rationalizing many of its agencies, which are duplicating roles to cut expenditure, but the Minister urged that this was an exceptional case.
Hon. Minister Frank Tumwebaze clarifies on twitter
Later on twitter, Hon Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries , Hon. Frank Tumwebaze explained that a decision had actually been taken in line with rationalization of agencies.
Hon. Minister said that, “Under the rationalization program, two critical agencies of MAAIF (Dairy Development Authority for regulation of dairy value chain development and Coffee Development Authority for coffee value chain development) that deal with regulating aspects of food quality and standards are to be phased out”.
“They were not covering all the other food aspects and the drug inputs used in disease control. The Need now for a one agency to deal with all safety aspects of food, animal feeds and all animal and plant drug inputs became very necessary,” he said.
Minister Frank Tumwebaze added that for policy coordination and effective implementation, it was found to be good practice to separate veterinary inputs from human drug inputs and thus place their regulation under Ministry of Agricutlure , Animal resources and Biosecurity while leaving human drugs under the National Drug Authority and Ministry of Health.
“So instead of having multiple regulatory agencies for various food safety and drug inputs ( animal & plant drugs ) regulation, cabinet was convinced to have one universal agency for food, animal and plant health/safety regulation as is the practice in many other jurisdictions. So it’s not a policy reversal or contradiction.”
On the question of costs, a directorate under the ministry instead of an authority, he said “Departments under ministries have structural limitations of staffing levels yet the amount of work to be done is enormous requiring a fully fledged institution”
Several veteranians hailed the new developments.
“Great move that will improve SPS measures molecules to be in the rightful hands so we need to start emphasizing biosecurity, animal traceability, zoning, compartmentalization and treatment being a last line option to promote quality and reduce even on the AMR burden,” said Dr. Jesse Mukisa Mutesasira.
Dr Twebaze Ndahayo Jackson added that, “This is long overdue. The new developments are entirely logical based on reason and reality. It is time now to set the ball rolling for a new system of regulation of veterinary drugs, agrochemicals, feeds, food and veterinary cosmetics directly under the control of MAAIF.”
Dr. Ndahayo is a UVA publicity secretary Eastern Chapter and Uganda National Animal Health Network (UNAHN) Communication officer.
**ADDITTIONAL INFORMATION: URN
Credit: Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA)