Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pharmacy Board-Sierra Leone Establishes Quality Control Laboratory: Sierra Leone News

Sierra Leone can now boast of having one of, if not, the best National Pharmaceutical Quality Control Laboratory in the whole of the West African sub region, following the establishment and subsequently commissioning, of an up graded and refurbished National Quality Control Laboratory last Thursday, 28th June 2007, by His Excellency the President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah at the Jenner Wright Clinic (Under-5 Clinic), at Race Course Road, in Freetown.

This is as a result of the formidable and comprehensive approach by the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone (PBSL) in coming up with initiatives in line with drug regulation in the country as prescribed by the Pharmacy and Drugs Act 2001.

L - R : President Tejan Kabbah, Health Minister Abator Thomas and Pharmacy Board Chairman, Bassie Turay

With Mr. Bassie S.R. Turay as its Chairman, and Mr. Jack M. Lansana as its Registrar efforts in regulating the flow of dangerous drugs which are substandard have been at the center of its policy, with the aim of improving the quality of drugs in circulation without compromising the quality and efficacy expected of drugs as administered to the people of this country. Over the period, the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has been engaged in the sensitization of communities and handlers of drugs on the dangers of administering fake and substandard drugs and other pharmaceutical products. It has also over the period destroyed quantities of such products which it had retrieved as a result of its rigorous search and destroy policy.

The PBSL in less than one week has undertaken three major exercises all in a bid to ensure quality pharmaceutical care for the people of Sierra Leone.

Firstly, on Wednesday, June 27 2007, the PBSL commissioned an Inspection Office at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay, in addition to those already in existence at the Lungi International Airport and at Cline Town.
Secondly, it commissioned the National Pharmaceutical Quality Control Laboratory, and thirdly, it destroyed quantities of fake and substandard drugs in the tune of Le 600, 000,000 (Six hundred million Leones), at the UNICEF compound in Freetown on Saturday, June 30 2007. The Board has also recently launched the Drug Safety Monitoring Programme (Pharmacovigilance).

Dissolution Apparatus in the Laboratory

The Board is at present working on modalities to establish Regional Inspection Centers in Bo, Kenema, Makeni, Koidu and Kailahun and is also looking forward to the establishment of similar Inspection Centers at the border crossing points in the Kambia and Pujehun districts respectively.

Health and Sanitation Minister, Mrs. Abator Thomas, in her address to newsman prior to the commissioning of the Laboratory, noted that there can be no meaningful industrial development and health promotion in the absence of an adequate standardized regulation of industrial processes, which relate to methods of production of human and animal used products. She therefore asserted that her Ministry has "an immense role to play in issues relation to the need for industrial growth in the face of a strong and healthy citizenry.

Mrs. Thomas pointed out that counterfeit and substandard drugs are the greatest evil to human safety and called them "the fiercest weapons of terrorism" and "weapons of destruction of the human race".

Minister Thomas went on to disclose that since the campaign to eradicate the presence of such "uncalled for drugs" in the Sierra Leone society, efforts have been made to retrieve and destroy over 8 billion Leones worth of such drugs and other related pharmaceutical products. She further described them as "haven the potential of inflicting immeasurable suffering and death to the people of Sierra Leone."

High Performance Liguid Chloromapography Machine

The Minister disclosed of plans to construct a new Testing Laboratory at the Central Medical Stores with funds to be provided by the European Union (EU), and expressed profound gratitude to the Union and other donors whose contributions she noted have resulted in the realization of the Drug Safety Campaign in the country.

In his key note address, the President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah noted that the success in the Drug Safety campaign by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone are additional hall marks of his presidency.

President Kabbah therefore described the commissioning of the laboratory as another milestone in the direction of his government’s pursuit of quality health for the people of Sierra Leone. "This is an additional indication of my government’s commitment to safe guarding the healthy status of Sierra Leoneans by ensuring that only quality, safe and efficacious medicines are marketed and distributed in the country," the President said.

He noted that health care delivery cannot be efficiently provided for the people without the basic equipment and the essential tools that will determine their efficacy and potency.

He said it is due to his government’s realization of the need for a healthy citizenry that would contribute significantly to national development that his government and the international community are investing so much resource in the drug quality control in the country.

He cited the African Development Bank (ADB), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Union (EU), the Global Fund and a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as haven played significant roles in the health care delivery system of Sierra Leone, and commended for their efforts.

The Chairman of the Pharmacy Board, Mr. Bassie S.R. Turay paid tribute to what he referred to as "the visionary leadership of President Kabbah" which he noted has "catapulted our collective efforts to develop, implement and sustain most remarkable milestones in the health care delivery of Sierra Leone," he said, noting further that these milestones include the provision of functional health facilities through out the country.

"As functionaries in the health sector, we are all very proud of this feat, Mr. President," Mr. Turay acknowledged.

At the destruction site counterfeit/fake and substandard drugs worth millions of leones set ablaze

Mr. Turay pointed out however that regardless the achievement in establishing the laboratory, which he described as "a wonderful gift to Sierra Leone" there still remain certain challenges as far as the maintenance and sustainability of the drug control facilities are concerned.

He pointed out that for the facilities to be sustained a minimum of USD 10,000 per month would be required to purchase chemicals, reagents and spares and additional USD 30,000 for the purchase of reagent sample books, manuals, staff motivation, which he said also include training, retaining remuneration and other incentives.

Other Speakers at the ceremony include the Board Registrar, Mr. Jack Lansana, the WHO Country Representative; Dr. Felicitas R. Zawaira expressed similar sentiments and the Deputy Minister of Development and Economic Planning, Mr. Ibrahim Sesay served as Chairman of the ceremony.

Pharmacy Board-Sierra Leone Establishes Quality Control Laboratory: Sierra Leone News