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Medicine Kills More Than HIV/Aids – Pharmacy Board Registrar Alerts

Medicine Kills More Than HIV/Aids – Pharmacy Board Registrar Alerts

Registrar of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has said in Freetown that errors that occur in the use of medicines and medical therapy are greater than the combined death rate caused by HIV and Aids, breast cancer and car accidents world wide. (Photo: WCN Johnson, Registrar, Pharmacy Board)

His observation painted a rather grim picture of the Sierra Leonean case during an extensive discussion of the issue with Sierra Express Media.

The Registrar revealed that in developed countries like the United States, where unnecessary deaths occur due to errors is the use of medicines or medical therapy is in the region of 1.5 million per year, a situation he stressed could be worse for an underdeveloped country like Sierra Leone.

Medication error, he went on, is preventable; even that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use while in the control of the health care professional, patient or consumer. These events he said are related to professional practices, health care products, procedures and systems (including prescribing), dispensing and the administration of drugs, among others.

WCN Johnson revealed that hundreds of thousands of people in the country silently suffer from the problems of medication error that result from the inappropriate administration and or use of medicine and the poor quality of the medical product used.  He noted that this result in prolonged hospitalization and illness of patients which may cause permanent disability or death to patients.

Other activities that lead to medication error, he said, include irrational medicine use, poor self-medication and practices, unsafe vaccination and blood transfusion, poor quality of drugs and equipment used and other inappropriate and unreliable activities.

Giving a health care scenario of the country, the registrar said Sierra Leone, a post-conflict nation, faces tremendous medical challenges with regard unsafe medical practices that lead to deaths of the innocent and gullible members of the public.

“As a post-conflict country, and one of the poorest in the world, the country has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates. Life expectancy, he said, is below 45years of age while access to appropriately manned health facilities is limited. “Counterfeit and substandard medicines are estimated to make up to 10-15% in the market and medication use culture reflects self medication,” the registrar said.

Even though specific medication monitoring mechanisms do not exist, he however noted that the recently introduced pharmacovigilance programme has stimulated interest among health care professionals and lay concerns on the need for safety consciousness with regards medication use in the country.

Currently, the registrar said, there is only one teaching hospital that is using the spontaneous adverse drugs reaction reporting system to monitor medication errors in the country among hospitalized patients. He said the system which is a pilot one, is expected to provide an insight into the extent of the problem in the country.

To date, he revealed, a total of 931cases have been recorded in the country among 113 hospitalized patients with prescription error accounting for about 63% of the total number of medication errors detected. Less that 45% occurred as result of the method of medication administration and nearly all error detected involved the use of antibiotics (90%), use of analgesic representing about 72% whilst anti-retrovirals account for about 6%.

He ended by saying that if the system provides the enabling environment, practitioners of medicines would be helped to learn a lot about the problem that will help them improve on patient health and well-being.

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