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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Worries over drug peddlers, counterfeits

HomeAYV NewsWorries over drug peddlers, counterfeits

Worries over drug peddlers, counterfeits

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Mr. Johnson says the weak Pharmacy and Drugs Acts of 2011 has made it challenging to effectively fight the high number of peddlers in the market, quacks and sub-standard drugs across Sierra Leone. He says the 60 per cent counterfeit or sub-standard drugs in post-conflict-pre-Ebola Sierra Leone has been significantly reduced to about 10 per cent.

Pharmacy Board Registrar says the ineffective monitoring of huge consignment of medicines coming into the country is one major reason for the prevalence of counterfeit or sub-standard medicines; noting that Sierra Leone relies 100 per cent on the importation of medicines.  The Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has a crucial role to play in ensuring Sierra Leone’s quest for Rapid National transformation, Development, industrial growth and a strong and healthy citizenry

Pharmacy Board says medicines are crucial in the health of a nation: “they save lives, reduce suffering and improve health. Medicines can achieve their goal only when they are of good quality, safe available and properly used by prescribers, dispensers and patients”.

Dr. Patrick Lukulay, the Vice President for Global Health Impact Programs, Africa United States Pharmacopeia, USP, has said Quality Assurance Systems for Medicines is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

USP is a scientific non-profit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide, in order to ensure the quality, safety and benefit of medicines and foods.

Dr. Lukulay says proper regulation and drug control in Sierra Leone could attract international investors in the health industry globally. He emphasized that without quality medication; there would be no positive health outcome. He said Poor quality medicines endanger public health because they result in: morbidity and mortality, antimicrobial resistance, loss of trust in healthcare system, undermined efforts of regulators, jeopardized investments in global health, and financial and brand value loss of industry.

He disclosed that Centre for Pharmaceutical Advancement and Training (CePAT) based in Ghana has trained 229 from 39 African countries on medicines regulation, good manufacturing practices and quality control of medicines across Africa; Sierra Leone has 7 beneficiaries.

Africa’s prospect

Africa is the second fastest growing Pharmaceutical market expected to reach 30 Billion United States dollars by 2016 (CAGR 11 per cent).

At the West Africa Ministerial Dialogue Meeting on Strengthening of Public Security in Africa, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank Group President, stated that “nothing could be more important”. The saying goes ‘health is wealth’. Our meeting today is crucial, for building resilient health systems to ensure that Africa can deal effectively with public health emergencies and support its economic transformation. A healthy population will translate into increased productivity, and drive to sustainable economic growth. Over the past two decades, Africa has made significant progress in terms of health outcomes. For instance, child mortality has declined in Sub-Saharan Africa, SSA, by more than 50 per cent between 1990 and 2015. Similarly, maternal mortality rates declined by 45 per cent in SSA and 59 per cent,” he said.

Well, Sierra Leone’s maternal mortality remains the highest globally accounting for 1,360 deaths annually.

Africa’s challenges

Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, African Development Bank Group President says there are however, some challenges remain. The disease burden remains high in Africa. Although progress has been made, with malaria cases declining by 42 per cent between 2000 and 2010, the continent still accounts for 88 per cent of global malaria incidence.

Also, Sub-Saharan Africa faces a deficit of skilled health workers. While the region accounts for 25 per cent of the global disease burden, it represents only 4 per cent of the global health workforce.

Way forward

AIG Morie Lengor, Director of Crime Service, Sierra Leone Police said they are committed to arresting and prosecuting those peddling with tramadol illegally. They are also going to engage pharmacy operators, so they could not dispense tramadol without prescription. 

The Country Representative for BRAC Sierra Leone Dr. Kinga Komorowska said accessibility of quality medicines in the rural hard-to-reach areas is crucial for the country.

Edward Komeh, National Coordinator for Consumer Protection Agency, recommended that if health authorities started to effectively raid drug peddlers on the streets, it would yield dividend as a way forward.

Alicia Sherifu, a clinical pharmacist, suggested that priority should be placed on investing in future health care professionals across the country.

The Pharmacy Board Sierra Leone says there can be no meaningful industrial development and promotion of health and trade without standardization and regulation of industrial processes, methods and products for human and animal consumption.

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