By Lamin Cham
Pakistani health entrepreneurs based in South Africa are currently in The Gambia to explore possibility of establishing a medicine testing laboratory and drug manufacturing company in the country.
Saeed Ahmad, CEO of PHARMASPEC and Dr M Arif Javed, managing director of AULTON Pharmaceuticals, both based in Johannesburg, are in the country at the behest of the Gambian Embassy in South Africa led by Ambassador Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay accompanied by Counsellor Ousman Rambo Jatta.
During their stay, the visiting health entrepreneurs met Gambian authorities including the Heath Minister, GIEPA officials and the vice president.
“Given the unfortunate case of children dying from contaminated drugs, we feel there is need for a testing laboratory here as one aspect but we have a profound interest to invest in the provision of many medical facilities here. The first question is whether we can do the analyses, yes we can. That is what we have been doing in South Africa for the last 20 years. We have been to Ghana and when Ambassador Fatoumata and Counsellor Ousman Jatta motivated us to come to The Gambia, we were excited because for a start, we are Muslims like the majority of Gambians and this place is very peaceful too,” Saeed said.
He said the provision of a medicine testing laboratory and drug manufacturing will not only make drugs safe and cut its importation to the country but also create jobs in the country.
Saeed said a drug testing laboratory will take care of the current situation where containers of medicine are piled at the port waiting to be tested before distribution and it will serve not only Gambia but any other country needing such services as the facility will be of international and WHO standard. He said once started, their project will also transfer expertise to Gambians and serve as center where students doing medicine at the University of The Gambia can do their practical.
Saeed said the Gambian authorities have been very receptive to their proposals which in fact is the service of the nation.
“We think if we get the support from the authorities on basic things like land and other things, we can start moving here to start preparation within six months,” Saeed told The Standard yesterday.
Counsellor Ousman Rambo Jatta said both himself and Ambassador Jahumpa are very much excited to have encouraged the investors to come to The Gambia to explore the possibility of investing in the Gambian health sector. “We believe as diplomats we should not only build relations with the world but also tap in potential opportunities, foreign development and investment into our motherland”, Counsellor Jatta said.