The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is set to adopt regional standards for the production of COVID-19 protocol items such as face masks and hand sanitizers.
At the ongoing 2nd virtual extraordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament, ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Mr Mamadou Traore said the standardization of the products would be in line with that of the International Standards Organization, ISO, the European Union, and the United States of America.
According to him “some countries in the region, are already the standardized ones. You must have the right dimensions, colourings, textiles; these indicators are already there. By the time it is validated, ownership to it becomes automatic.”
Mr Traore said the commission would assist in building capacity for local production through training and provision of the necessary equipment with the 121 Euro grant provided by the European Union.
“We need to produce competitive products. There will be certification, to make them safe, usable and tested in laboratories. We are going to support countries through training and equipment. We need to give information to general public.
When the countries closed their borders there was no way for us to get medicines from elsewhere, we needed to have indigenous products to use. So today we need to be able to develop the capacity for local production of vaccines in the region,” Traore said.
The Commissioner also urged the regional Council of Ministers to ensure that borders would be opened based on technical advice and not on political exigencies, as ECOWAS Ministers of Transportation have been meeting to discuss the rationale and modalities for easing and opening of borders across the region.
On the issue of traditional herbs/medicine for COVID-19, he said the West African Health Organisation, WAHO, was handling the matter.
“This is a Research & Development matter, having access to the market is a long process, there should be laboratory tests, real-time tests. It takes investments of seven years to commercialise the products. The process and approval is a long one before you get to commercialization. WAHO is leading on this and my department is collaborating on this”.