The Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone in collaboration with United States Pharmacopeia (USP) concluded a one-day national stakeholders’ forum on strengthening medicines regulatory capacity in post-Ebola Sierra Leone on Wednesday 9th November 2016 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Freetown. The forum attracted stakeholders from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Pharmaceutical Society of Sierra Leone, United States Pharmacopeial Convention, USAID, World Health Organization and the media amongst others.
L-R: Pharm. Wiltshire Johnson, Registrar Pharmacy Board, Pharm. Bassie Turay, Chairman, Pharmacy Board,
Dr. Brima Kargbo, Chief Medical Officer, MoHS, Dr. Patrick Lukulay USP representative and
Saad El-Din Hussein Hassan USAID representative
The Chairman of the occasion Pharm. Bassie Turay stated that the forum is timely and in place as there is need to strengthen the medical sector in the country, especially during the post-Ebola era. He stated that the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone has been actively working to promote development in the health sector despite all the challenges that the healthcare sector is facing adding that the challenges of the healthcare sector were worsened by the Ebola outbreak. He reiterated that the forum was geared towards bringing together all stakeholders in the health sector in promoting regulation of the pharmaceutical sector. He reaffirmed that WHO, USAID, and the United States Pharmacopeial Convention have been very much instrumental and supportive in helping promote the healthcare sector in Sierra Leone.
The representative of USAID, Saad El-Din Hussein Hassan disclosed that President Dr. Ernest Bia Koroma has prioritized the healthcare sector as one of his pillars in the agenda for prosperity and the 24 months post Ebola recovery plan adding that the President along with other health partners have been working relentlessly to reduce health-related morbidity and mortality rate in Sierra Leone. He said that the government through the Pharmacy Board has been working tremendously to reduce the influx of counterfeit, substandard and falsified drugs in the country. He pledged the continued support of USAID to promote the president’s agenda in promoting the healthcare sector.
Representing the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Brima Kargbo Chief Medical Officer stated that the health ministry is honored to host this important forum adding that the efforts of the Pharmacy Board and other medical agencies often go unnoticed until something tragic happens in the health sector which affects the general public. He added that the effort and work of the health ministry through the Pharmacy Board has quietly and effectively protected public health reaffirming that this has boosted public confidence in the health sector. He reiterated that public confidence in the quality, efficacy, and safety of medical products translates into confidence in the national health services provided by the health ministry. He disclosed that the Board’s quality control testing of products, marketing authorization and licensing work, medicines safety and clinical trials monitoring, inspection and enforcement activities are well-known components of the regulatory framework that are geared towards protecting the public from medicines related morbidity and mortality.
Making a presentation on the overview of medicines regulation and pharmaceutical landscape in Sierra Leone, the Registrar of the Pharmacy Board, Pharm. Wiltshire Johnson, disclosed that a quick online search on the status of the healthcare sector in Sierra Leone will yield results showing inconsistency in the quality of medicines in the country adding that most of the drugs available in public hospitals are supplied by donor partners and other NGOs which has posed a greater challenge in the regulation of these drugs. He added that the safe use of medicines is a global concern not just a Sierra Leone problem and drug safety agencies are struggling to control it.
Pharm. Wiltshire Johnson, Registrar Pharmacy Board Making a presentation on the overview of medicines regulation and pharmaceutical landscape in Sierra Leone
A cross-section of stakeholders listening to presentations from other participants during the programme
Pharm Johnson disclosed that 15% of the global medicines market is counterfeit or substandard adding that in developing countries it has been reported to rise as high as 50% -70%. He reiterated that in post-conflict, pre- Ebola Sierra Leone over 60% of the medicines on our market that was tested were either counterfeit or substandard adding that today that figure stands about 10%. He said that this is a remarkable improvement but totally unacceptable as we are working towards a zero percent counterfeit or substandard market.
The Registrar stated that medicine regulation has played and will continue to play a critical role in ensuring a sustainable and resilient health system in post Ebola Sierra Leone through the provision of good quality, safe and efficacious medicines and regulated products and their appropriate manufacture, procurement, importation ,distribution and use adding that critical to this conviction is establishing the regulatory link between access and availability of medicines and related products, their subsequent use and the quality of products.
Dr. Patrick H. Lukulay of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) stated that USP will increase its commitment to global public health by advocating for the use of quality standards around the world, enabling access to relevant standards, and working through global partnerships to strengthen systems that ensure access to quality foods and medicines. He added that there is no shortage of essential medicines but there is a shortage of quality assured medicines in the market. He encouraged the ministry and the Board to continue post-market surveillance as this he stated will improve the quality of the medicines in the country. He reaffirmed that poor quality medicines endangers public health and this he stated will lead to high morbidity and mortality, antibiotic resistance, loss of trust in the healthcare system and undermine the efforts of regulators adding that due to chronic shortages of human, technical, financial and other resources many National Medicines Regulatory Authorities in Africa do not have the full capacity to perform most core regulatory functions.