President Kabbah announced yesterday the establishment of the National Quality Control Laboratory at the Pharmacy Board, labeling it one of the strides his government had made in the health care and sanitation sector.
“[The lab] demonstrates the commitment of my government to safeguarding the health of Sierra Leoneans by ensuring that only good quality, safe and efficacious medicines are marketed and distributed in Sierra Leone,” said President Kabbah.
The facility houses a variety of lab equipment used to test the authenticity and quality of pharmaceuticals, and allows its technicians to filter out counterfeit products.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are prevalent among drug stores in Freetown, and most consumers are unable to spot the characteristics of such products.
“We are all aware of the potential threat of counterfeit and substandard products on the health of the people of our country,” President Kabbah remarked. “All perpetrators who indulge in the trade of bad products and those who connive with such traders are warned to desist from such practices.
“The long hand of the law, strengthened by this laboratory and trained personnel, is out to catch dealers in fake and substandard medicines and to deal with them accordingly,” the president said.
Donors that were highlighted at the meeting included the African Development Bank, WHO, European Union, Global Fund, the Pfizer pharmaceutical corporations and a number of non-governmental organizations.
Despite the donations provided, Dr Zawaira stressed the importance of the sustainability of the project to ensure continued testing.
“The provisions of the best clinical infrastructure and the best trained medical doctors would be meaningless in the healthcare delivery, unless we put in place, in a sustainable manner, good quality, safe, efficacious and affordable medicines.
“Twenty-five to 50 percent of medicines in developing countries are believed to be counterfeits,” said Dr Felicitas Zawaira, WHO representative.