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Sierra Leone Is 87th Member on Drug Safety
By Richard B. Bockarie (Freelancer 033 807 140)
Oct 6, 2008, 12:19
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Health Ministry sources have confirmed that the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved Sierra Leone through the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone (PBSL) to become the 87th member of its Drugs Safety and Monitoring Programme. The WHO Drug Safety and Monitoring Programme (known as Pharmacovigilance) is the International Agency that is responsible for ensuring the protection of public health through pharmacovigilance and the adhoc monitoring of all adverse effects caused by the use of drugs and other pharmaceutical products.

Commenting on the WHO approval, Acting Registrar of the Pharmacy Board Wiltshire C.N. Johnson said: "it is indeed a great achievement any regulatory agency could be proud of as this shows that the strides by the Health Ministry through the Pharmacy Board is bearing the expected fruits to improve health care delivery in Sierra Leone." The Registrar adds that "drug safety monitoring system has greatly improved the Boards capacity to monitor and identify counterfeit and substandard drugs" as evidenced by recent capture of drugs amounting to hundreds of millions of Leones in raids carried out country-wide.

Speaking in an interview, Chairman of the Board Mr. Bassie Turay says, "to be granted membership in the WHO Drug Monitoring and Safety Programme means that a countrys drugs and pharmaceuticals regulatory agency must have met all the bench marks set by WHO in monitoring of the safety of drug in the market".

The requirement of the WHO in this respect, the Registrar Johnson maintained, is the attainment of all the bench-marks on Adverse Drug Reaction-(ADR) Monitoring and Reporting set up by WHOs Uppsala Monitoring Centre, which the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has recently fulfilled.

Prior to the approval of the PBSL, a WHO assessment team paid a two-week visit to Sierra Leone from the 17th-27th of August to assess the strength of the Pharmacovigilance system in the country. During the visit, a three-day workshop was conducted for PBSL staff and other public health programmes of the Ministry in a bid to set up the Pharmacovigilance system in each of these programmes.

Also during the visit and sequel to the workshop, a one year pharmacovigilance action plan was developed to fast track recommendations made by the WHO visiting team and health stakeholders in the country.

The Drug Safety and Monitoring Programme is hosted by the Drug Information and Pharmacovigilance Department (DPID) of the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone with initial funds provided by the Global Fund Project and contribution from the HSSP, the EU/Malaria Project and the government of Sierra Leone and was launched in 2006; PBSL sources say.

Giving a brief background on the work of the Department, Current head of the Drug Information and Pharmacovigilance Department Mr. Sahr Gbomor said that the Department "does awareness raising on the magnitude of drug safety problems through early detection of adverse drugs reaction in patients, and striving to improve the rational use of medicines by health care professionals and the general public".

This he maintained is driven mainly by PBSLs objective to "reduce medicine morbidity and mortality". He also mentioned that between 2007and 2008, the DPID has been able to train over 380 health care providers of different cadres on Pharmacovigilance and that a total of 5000 ADR reporting forms have been distributed to health care institutions in the country by the department. He also revealed that jingles encouraging the reporting suspected counterfeit drugs and ADRs to the PBSL are daily been aired on the radio and public address system mounted on PBSL vehicles.

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

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