As the war on counterfeit pharmaceutical products intensifies, the Pharmacy Board -Sierra Leone (PB-SL) yesterday reinforced itself for the war on counterfeit drugs as the board officially opened a three-day Pharmaco-vigilance seminar for staff and those in the public health sector programme.
The aim of the ideas exchange group discussion programme, which was launched by the health minister, Dr Soccoh Kabia was to scrutinize Sierra Leone’s “drug safety monitoring system,” revealed the PB-SL information officer, Sahr Emmanuel Gbomor.
He explained that at the end of the seminar which was organized by the PB-SL in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), European Union and the University of Ghana technical team, “[the PB-SL] intend coming up with a work plan, which will be sponsored [by the coordinators].”
In his statement at the opening ceremony of the occasion, Ministry of Health and Sanitation acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr PAT Roberts stated among other things that there is a need to “strengthen pharmaco-vigilance in the country”, noting that this has a lot to do with public health.
He stated, “the ministry through the Pharmacy Board has gone a long way to ensure that public health is given priority.”
Acting Chairman PB-SL, Mr H H Lawson in his welcome statement underscored that “pharmaco-vigilance is that aspect which encompasses drug monitoring focusing on Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs), exchange and information, direct-to-customer advertising, risk in special population- i.e. women and children- medication errors, communication and crisis management i.e. handling the impact of rumors, defining the role of the media and managing the public perception of disasters.”
He furthered that the technical team “is here to review and strengthen the pharmaco-vigilance system, vaccines and traditional medicines and also to contribute to the capacity building of public health programme through training and holding of consultative meetings with stakeholders.”
He disclosed that there will also be field visits whereby “[the technical team] will be in a position to assess and make necessary recommendations.”
Mr Lawson noted that participants of the programme are going to be ambassadors of the pharmaco-vigilance system, pointing out that they will not only be looking out for substandard drugs, counterfeit and fake medicines and vaccines but also to report ADRs.
He emphasized that government is extremely concerned about the health status of its people.
In his explanation the representative of WHO Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu strolled 45 years down memory lane into the history of pharmaco-vigilance and also underscored the support the organization have been giving to MoHS over the years.
He reiterated WHO’s commitment to provide technical support to MoHS to improve the well being of the health of all Sierra Leoneans.
In his keynote launching statement, Dr Kabia noted that PB-SL “is at the forefront of measures designed to ensure that all medicines used in Sierra Leone are safe, efficacious and of good quality.”
He pointed out that “pharmaco-vigilance will also be another tool for aiding the fight against counterfeiting.”
By Ophaniel Gooding