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NEWS : Local News  

Pharmacy Owners Merge for Public Health in Sierra Leone
By Richard B. Bockarie
Nov 27, 2008, 17:20
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Chief Secretary to the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone Registrar WCN Johnson has said during a three-day joint sensitization tour of the South and Eastern Provinces in collaboration with the Pharmacy Business Association that under the new dispensation of the Minister of Health the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone (PBSL) has decided to adopt a multifaceted approach in the fight against the evils of fake, substandard and counterfeit medicines in the country.

Acting Registrar WCN Johnson and Team

This he said is carried out by the involvement of pharmacy business owners, pharmacy professionals and local authorities in the combat against the largely entangling problems of fake drugs in the country. The Registrar added that the Board is currently bringing stake holders together to strategize remedies to the rising tide of counterfeit and fake medicines in the country.

Inspecotr Gavo Member of the Southern Adhoc Drugs Task Force

Another reason for the joint tour of the Pharmacy Board and the Pharmacy Business Association Registrar Johnson said is to acquaint the people of the pharmaceutical industry on current regulatory matters as against the coming year so that they dont remain in the dark on revised regulatory matters that are to be implemented by the Board.

Audience of Memebers of the Pharmceuticla Business Asssocition

The Job of the Pharmacy Board Mr. Johnson made it pertinently clear is to "protect the lives of the people of this country". Spelling the importance of the work of the Board, he said that such can only be explained if one asks himself the question "could any body place value to the lives of human beings?" Because the human life cannot be valued in material and monetary terms the Registrar said,"the work of the Board is therefore very much invaluable both to the development of the country and the very wellbeing of its citizenry."

Talking on the impetus of deliberately putting fake and counterfeit drugs on the market, WCN Johnson told Pharmacy stakeholders in the two regions that it is because most people have lost their moral values in keeping with the fact that no one is licensed to take the life of another that they go about selling what no doubt has the potential to be the apparently greatest unsuspecting killer machine (fake drugs) in the world and the sub-Saharan Africa region in particular.

The Pharmacy Board it was learnt will be bent on fighting against smuggling of fake drugs into the country by collaborating with the police, local authorities, the National Revenue Authority (NRA) and all and sundry in the Pharmacy and Drugs Business in the country. The Board it was also remarked, will mount the greatest campaign come next year to ensure that the already marked in-roads it has recorded in the fight against the dangers and proliferation of fake and counterfeit drugs is superseded by tangible results that "will no doubt contribute a lot to the emergence of the countrys health sector from its long years of decadence" the Pharmacy Board Boss assured the people of this country.

The Board in the words of the representative of the Chairman of the Pharmacy Board Mr. Mohamed Sesay who is also a Board member said that they as Board members "have decided to collaborate very strongly with the College of Medicine to ensure large enrolment of Pharmacy Students so that they come out and help to give the pharmacy business in the country the required professional outlook".

President of the Pharmacy Business Association in the country Mr. Ethelbert Tejan, who also served as Chairman over the deliberations, reiterated the need for the combat against fake and substandard as in his words "the problem of fake and counterfeit drugs is grossly overwhelming and inimical to the health of the people of this country".

In his opening remarks, he called on the Board and other stakeholders like the NRA to make the business environment for pharmacy business owners more relaxed and conducive, adding that the Pharmacy Industry is the only business that is connected to the life and wellbeing of the people. Mr. Tejan called on the NRA in particular to make drastic reduction on import duty on medicines as is now evident in many countries in Africa.

He congratulated the Acting Registrar of the Pharmacy Board for initiating such a marvelous idea which he said has already started paying off in the way of relations between the Board and the Pharmacy Business owners in the country as opposed to the "cat and dog fight that had used to been the case in previous administrations at Board. Mr. Tejan said that "gone are those days when the Pharmacy Board will leave the business people in the dark" and that "now all must be seen in taking active parts in the fight against fake and counterfeit drugs as any body could fall victim of their dangers anytime, much so when the Board now operates on the basis of open policy" he said. He acknowledged that since the inception of the Acting Registrar, Pharmacy Business people have been frequently receiving information on every regulatory matters regarding fake and counterfeit drugs as well as licensing and disciplinary matters which make compliance to regulation very easy for them.

Representative of the NRA from the South Mr. Jumu gave his word to the Pharmacy business people on the issues of tax reduction on pharmaceuticals and that he will take the appeal to higher authorities. He revealed that the NRA is currently working with ECOWAS to work on import duties of life-essentials and that medicines might as well be found among this category of tax cut.

Representing the Local Unit Commander of the Southern province Superintendent Gavao who is also member of the Adhoc Drugs Task Force of the south said that the police is ready to complement the work of the Board as is established by the Pharmacy and Drugs Act. He recommended joint police and Pharmacy Board inspection of all drugs outlets and to ensure that porous entry points in the country are adequately manned.

Members of the Pharmacy Business Industry put forth their concerns in the two regions for them and the Board to come together to see how best such concerns should be implemented in line with the regulatory principles of the Board.

Pharmacy Business people and Professionals in the provincial cities of Bo, Kenema and Kono benefited from a power-point presentation on current regulatory issues with a view to making them alert and very much conscious about the health safety measures employed by the Government of Sierra Leone through the Pharmacy Board.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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