House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay has called on member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to combat the unwholesome practice of counterfeiting and the sale of illegal medical products in the region.
Nuquay said countries in the ECOWAS region must send out a strong message that they do not condone these kinds of practices by naming and shaming those who take pleasure in transporting illegal medical products to countries in the region.
Nuquay wants collaborators of these crimes as well as government officials who negate or renege on their duties and responsibilities in ensuring full compliance with the relevant laws and policies on counterfeit medicines and expired products to also be penalized for their actions.
He made the comments Monday at the start of a week-long Delocalized Meeting of the Joint Committees on Health and Social Services, Trade, Customs and Free Movement of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The meeting is being convened under the theme: "ECOWAS policy on the fight against counterfeit medical products and expired products: Contributions of the Parliament in the implementation and monitoring of this policy.”
"Our role as parliamentarians must encompass the exercise of appropriate oversight over the relevant agencies of our respective governments and elevate issues that confront them and their work to the level of the parliament," Nuquay noted.
He emphasized that the relevant committees of the Parliament must hold public hearings as frequently as possible to ascertain progress and flag problems that need to be addressed.
Nuquay indicated that, "If our committees discover capacity gaps in the operations of the Ministry of Health, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Immigration Services and Customs, among others, we as legislators must be able to increase their capacities through budgetary appropriations."
This, he said, will serve as a way of empowering these entities of government to do the difficult jobs they are required to do.