Gov’t Vows…2010 – No Fake Drugs
As the year 2009 folds up, the Government of Sierra Leone through the Registrar of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone, WCN Johnson, has vowed to ensure that the drugs and pharmaceuticals market in the country is rid of all fake and substandard drugs come 2010; judging from the remarkable progress made by the Board with the support of the will of the President as embedded in his Agenda for Change to maintaining a serene public health in the country as part of the overall National Development Plans.
Talking to Sierra Express Media in Freetown, WCN Johnson said with moral support from the office of the president, office of the health minister and the resolve of board members, the flow of fake medicines in registered pharmacies have been drastically reduced from the alarming rate of about 37% in 2007 to about just 3% by the end of 2009; a feat health stakeholders in the country have lauded as remarkable. Whist trying to achieve this goal in 2010, the Registrar has however reiterated the challenges ahead citing the still precarious situation of fake medicine in the black market sector.
“We have come a long way to ensuring that we stall the rampant spread of drug peddling in the country but the challenges and constraints faced by the board in this regard are very considerably plenty” as 99% of drugs that are peddled come from insecure border crossings; adding that “and 99% of our border is open to such smugglings that supply the black market in Sierra Leone”. John revealed that all drugs and pharmaceuticals (all registered products) coming into the country via the official entry point, are put through standard testing with an ultra-modern state of the earth laboratory available to the Pharmacy Board; this it said ensures that any drug put on the formal market is safe and potent.
When asked how he, the Health Ministry and Board hopes to fight this aspect of the challenge, the PBSL Registrar stated that it is the job of everyone to fight the flow of fake drugs, “the people, security forces in the country, our traditional leaders and stakeholders in the health sector who he charged with the responsibility to join the Pharmacy Board to sensitize the public on the dangers of buying drugs and pharmaceuticals from unsecured outlets” impressing that “the public is safe in drugs use if they buy from registered pharmacies, drugs stores and paten medicines stores.Â
He also has revealed that with regards to ensuring that drug peddling is curbed, “the Pharmacy Board and the Law Officers Department in the country will in 2009 work on the repealing of the Drugs and Pharmacy Act 200; which it is hoped will be rigid in punitive measures against those committing the evils of peddling medicines when they actually have no business in marketing drugs and pharmaceuticals”.
Recounting success of the outgoing year, WCN Johnson said in Freetown that the country recorded the public destruction by fire of almost Le.2 billion worth of fake and counterfeit drugs, undertook a nationwide sensitization of all stake holders ranging from traditional authorities, security forces, pharmacy business owners, the Sierra Leone Traders Union and conducted a four sessions of continuous professional education for pharmacists in all regions of the country”. All of these ventures he attributed to the preparation of the minds of the people in relation to a bigger swoop that was carried out in 2009 against fake medicines in the country. Over 90 pharmaceutical premises that faltered and found wanting by law were closed down and fined, setting precedence and deterrent to future disrespecting of the law and disregard the wellbeing of the Sierra Leone public.
Commenting on the relevance of continuous education for pharmacists, the Registrar reasoned that “if a cleansing of the public health must take place, we must start by educating in professional, legal and economic terms the primary stakeholders in the business of medicine- the pharmacists”. Â
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