Pharmaceutical businesses in Rwanda are set to benefit from the newly launched pharmaceutical regulatory information management system (prims), an online portal launched yesterday by the Ministry of Health.
The portal will see different pharmaceutical regulatory services like premise registration, product registration, import and export visa application, among others done online, and the pharmaceutical businesses will receive replies electronically.
The system also offers an information data base showcasing registered products and premises for customers to know whether what they are buying is genuine. It has been realised through support from Trade Mark east Africa.
Speaking at the launch of the system, Joseph Kabatende, the head of pharmaceutical services Africa at the ministry of Health said that experts have been working on the system since 2012 and it has been piloted since May this year.
“The system we are launching today is a very important system and it contributes to smart Rwanda since one of the components that are looked at in smart Rwanda is smart health,” he said.
According to Kabatende, the system replaces a basically paper-based system that has been operating manually to deliver the different regulatory services to the clients.
To him, the former system had a lot of implications like inconsistency of data entry, taking much time and money in terms of people moving from their premises to the ministry for these services, having risks of making errors, as well as demanding regular staff trainings to operate it effectively.
He added that the new system is linked with the electronic single window, a fact that also helps the clients to clear with the customs authorities.
According to Patience Mutesi, the country director of Trade Mark east Africa, during the piloting phase of the system that started in May this year, the average time for importing pharmaceuticals in Rwanda using the online system reduced by 2 days ( from 3 days to one day).
A total of 4953 transactions were carried out during this piloting phase, a figure representing 74 percent of total transactions.
“It will boost the ministry’s pharmaceutical unit to better facilitate and regulate the pharmaceutical sector in Rwanda and by enabling regional and global manufacturers, importers and exporters of products in Rwanda to apply online for regulatory documents and receive documents electronically which cuts out a major bureaucratic red tape,” she said.
“In the short and medium term, we expect that the clearance time and cost of pharmaceutical products coming into Rwanda and leaving or transiting through Rwanda will reduce, we also expect to see high levels of transparency as has been shown,” she added.
Dr. Diane Gashumba, the minister for Health said that the system contributes to e-governance and contributes to the access of medicine in the country.
“The provision and distribution of drugs, vaccines and consumables constitute one of the essential support systems for delivering health care services. The availability of medicines and consumables is one of the key components in accessing quality health services for the population of Rwanda,” she said.
Richard Tusabe, the Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority referred to it as “a huge milestone” and called upon the business community to embrace it.
Eng. Daniel Murenzi the Principal Information Technology Officer for the East African Community said that there are shortages of medicines that occur in different parts of the world and such a system helps in solving such problems by bringing in medicines in a fast and efficient ways.