Tuesday, May 27, 2008

NAFDAC’s exploring e-regulatory – Akunyili

THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is exploring e-regulatory practices so as to always be ahead regulatory issues even before they arise, reports CHARLES OKOH.

Stating this was the Director-General of the agency, Prof. Dora Akunyili during the recently concluded Computer, Telecommunications and Office equipment (CTO 2008) exhibition and conference at the Muson Centre, Onikan-Lagos.

Prof. Akunyili, who was represented by the Deputy Director, Enforcement Directorate, Mrs. T. O. Owolabi, said as the world becomes more and more e-operational, regulators including NAFDAC are also fast on the heels of these developments and the Nigeria cannot be left behind because electronics have turned the world into a virtual village.

She added that leveraging on technology for initial administration and control is a prerequisite for industrial development.

She disclosed that some of the areas of need for e-regulation in the agency include technologies to facilitate the policing of Nigeria’s vast international boarders to prevent entry of counterfeit products; systems that facilitate effective communication within NAFDAC, with regulated industries and other regulatory activities in the West African regions; affordable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as well as track and trace devices as well as markers capable of clearly distinguishing genuine food, drugs and other NAFDAC regulated products from counterfeits.

Also, she highlighted the capacity building for agency officials in the use of technology for regulatory control as well as regulations of the NAFDAC regulated industries among others.

According to her, “All nations and regions of the world must develop, embrace or be able to leverage technology for sustainable development. The reality of technology driven success such as in Dubai, China, among others, underscores the possibilities offered by the CTO 2008 conference which focuses on telemedicine, distance learning and on-line transactions.”

Mrs. Akunyili further said the country is already enjoying the good fruits of leveraging on technology with collaborative efforts between National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited of the United Kingdom, which resulted in the launching of Nigeria ’s first earth observation satellite project in 2000 and the birth of NIGCOMSAT-1 on May 14, 2007.

The collaboration, she noted, has the potentials to open up the country to the global frontiers and global economic competitiveness, as expectations are currently high that the satellite infrastructure could be used to offer high-speed voice, data, and video transmission networks in Nigeria.

Prof. Akunyili added that the growth in the telecommunications industries in recent years in the country has opened new doors for employment, investment, national security, economic growth, and sustainable development and that, hopefully, the third generation services from the industry will propel the country into greater information and communication technology (ICT) growth.

She also stated that the country must rush into telemedicine, which has moved from the realms of science fiction and research to reality as it has already proven capability to improve the quality of healthcare delivery to urban and remote rural dwellers.

Health providers, she said, are now able to monitor patients remotely, process data and obtain an alert if there is a problem and this, it is hoped, will reduce cost of health care delivery while improving quality of service.

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