Friday August 9 2013

The professional : Ugandans should appreciate locally-made products

By Jackie Tahakanizibwa

What do you see as your lasting impact on your chosen industry?
I have worked in the international pharmaceutical industry for 35 years and have been very fortunate to have worked at some of the industry’s most respected and innovative companies such as Pfizer, GSK and Novo Nordisk and in many different countries. Therefore, I believe I have been well trained in my field, something that I have been passing on to my colleagues here in Uganda for the last 10 years!

If you had the power, what would you change in your industry?
I would legislate for “technology transfer” of all off-patent products to companies in the developing world, so that we could produce modern generic medicines cheaply and more efficiently. I would also try to bring a greater level of public awareness to the fact that locally made pharmaceutical products are manufactured to exactly the same standards as the imported ones made by multi-national companies – but they can be sold at more affordable prices because they are made locally and do not have to be imported, and this also provides employment to highly qualified Ugandans with science degrees.

If you could do it all over again, would you do it differently?
Not really, perhaps I would be more aggressive in achieving certain objectives so that the deliverables would have been achieved faster. But, from a personal viewpoint, I have had a really challenging and exciting career in the pharmaceutical industry – living and working in the US, UK, Europe and Africa – and I certainly would not have wanted that to have been any different!

How do you relax when you are off work?
The most valuable thing for me is to spend quality time with my wife Harriet and my daughters Sophie and Freya, who are now both at university abroad. We just love being together, exploring new places in Uganda and beyond, chatting, watching movies, eating out --- just ordinary, normal things than mean so much more when shared with family members!

When do you take a break from work? (how do you plan your family time?)
I very strongly believe that everyone needs and deserves a break from work. For me, taking a break normally means going away to explore another culture, another country, with my family. We inevitably come back re-motivated and with new ideas on how to get the best from life and work. At work, we make sure that everyone takes their holiday entitlements!