First female head of FDA outlines vision

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For over 26 years, the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, has worked with the authority in various capacities.

She took over leadership of the FDA after the former CEO, Mr Hudu Mogtari, was relieved of his post by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Experience and professionalism

Mrs Darko, who is currently one of the oldest workers, started work with the FDA which was then known as the Pharmacy Board and later split to Food and Drugs Board and the Pharmacy Council and then finally became the Food and Drugs Authority.

The first female to head the institution, she is also the first CEO to have been appointed from within.

Mrs Darko was the one who designed the logo of the FDA and has worked in every department of the institution, starting from the laboratory, rising through the ranks to the position of the Head of Safety, Monitoring and Clinical Trial Division, a position she held until her current appointment.

Through her long service and expertise, the FDA was nominated and recognised by the NEPAD/African Medicines Regulation Harmonisation (AMRH), Regional Centres Regulatory Excellence in three critical areas namely medicines safety (pharmacovigilance), clinical trials and drug registration.

She single-handedly led a collaboration of the FDA with the UK-MHRA in the area of medicine safety which is currently multi-divisional at the FDA with anti-counterfeiting as one of the key areas of support.

Mrs Darko also served as an expert advisor on the African Regulators Network (ARN) and worked tirelessly to ensure harmonisation of regulatory systems across Africa.

Health and safety

Outlining her vision in an interview, she said one of her priorities was to improve health and safety, adding that if a product was not accepted internationally, it should not be allowed in Ghana.

“Safety is across the board, Ghanaians should not be less safe than somebody staying in America and that is my prime focus for Ghanaians to ensure that what is good over there, is also good for us.

“So we need to look at what our stakeholders are doing, compared to what is being done internationally and place ourselves there,” Mrs Darko explained, citing for instance that there were certain things in the palm oil from Ghana that were found at the international level as unsafe and was banned and yet was accepted in the country.

She said that should not be allowed to happen again, insisting that whatever was not safe in the United Kingdom (UK) should also not be safe in Ghana.

Mrs Darko explained that the FDA did not exist in a vacuum, “we align ourselves with other regulatory agencies. We have to make sure that we keep up with what is happening internationally.”

“So if internationally they are not allowing certain things, we cannot sit in Ghana and say something is not safe internationally but we will allow it in Ghana,” she said.

Growth of local industry

On local industry, Mrs Darko said the industry had to grow to create jobs for Ghanaians, stressing that the country could no longer continue to rely on importation.

“We do a lot of importation. It is good but importation does not create jobs,” she said, recalling that about 12 years ago, the FDA had the vision of ensuring that the manufacturing industry in the country had to grow.

She acknowledged that such a decision might not be popular with some industry players, explaining that in going along the international standards, “you will have a fight on your hands because there are certain things that you will not allow the industry to continue doing.”

Mrs Darko is credited with stopping the use of teaspoon or tablespoon as a form of measurement in administering medication, a decision she said was fiercely resisted by industry players as that was seen as an additional cost to the producer.

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