Regulation activities of food, drug, cosmetics and medical devices in Zanzibar will now be done online thanks to the launch of an online food and drug regulatory services portal.
Dubbed the Zanzibar Food and Drug Agency e-portal, the online system digitizes all processes related to the food and drug regulatory services in Zanzibar.
This follows the roll out of the TradeMark East Africa funded the design and roll out of the e-portal with a grant of US$ 150,000.
The e-portal will ease the administration and management of regulatory services and documents issued by Zanzibar Food and Drug Agency, including issuance of import and export permits, registration of foods, drugs, cosmetics and medical device, registration of good manufacturing practice certification, premise registration and all import and export inspection processes.
It will also ease trade document verifications and improve health safety inspections. It is expected that with the system in place, the average time taken to acquire import and export certificate will reduce by 95%, while the costs associated with acquiring the import/export certificate will reduce by 80%.
Other benefits include enhanced transparency, integrity and accountability as the online systems collate information, making it possible to analyze data and make informed decision as well as reduce human contact. The portal has been linked to the East Africa Community Medicines Regulatory Harmonization Platform. This will enhance ZFDA’s partnership and information sharing with other National Medicines and Regulatory Authorities allowing it to share as well as access information related to the industry, and know in good time, what pharmaceuticals have been flagged from any of the region’s country, enabling it to better safeguard public health.
Presiding over the event the Zanzibar Minister for Health Hon Hamad Rashid Mohammed lauded the efforts of the food and drugs agency in taking a measure that will further ensure the health safety of citizens.
“The Agency is fully involved in the medicine regulatory harmonization process in the East African Community, which aims to facilitate access to safe drugs in the country. This portal enables us to achieve this as it is modern technology that creates a regulatory control system for all the products we are regulating, which is the basis of this event. Implementation of this system will reduce time spent issuing permits for importing products controlled and regulated by, ZFDA, as well as creating a friendly environment for other government institutions, private sector, local and international importers of foods and drugs in Zanzibar.” He said.
The Executive Director of ZFDA Dr. Burhani O. Simai said, “ZFDA prides itself in joining the ranks of 4 other countries in the EAC who have rolled out e-portals for their pharmaceutical regulatory bodies. Through this eportal our stakeholders within and out of Zanzibar will receive information about products that are expected, those that have been banned, those pending further investigations. Most importantly, it is the reassurance to Zanzibar citizens that foods and drugs in the market are of good quality. Further, the e-portal will eliminate use of paper reducing the manual processes and this will save both money and time to the agency and traders.”
By enhancing the regulatory systems in the food and drugs sector, the Ministry of Health will contribute to the government efforts to promote e-governance, quality and quick service delivery to citizens and better ways of regulating the sector in a manner that will boost investments in the sector.
TMEA Tanzania Country Director John Ulanga said that supporting the portal is in line with the organisation’s commitment to working with EAC institutions to reduce barriers to trade, “Easing the importation and transiting of food and drugs in Zanzibar is important in enhancing the supply chain. A major bureaucratic red tape has been reduced or eliminated because the portal enables regional and global manufacturers, importers and exporters of food and drugs related products in Zanzibar to apply for medicine registration, import license and other regulatory documents, online and receive documents electronically.”
The e-portal will enhance predictability of applications manufacturers and traders make business decisions.