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Ellen alarms health risk

The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaPresident Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf says all ECOWAS countries will need to do more to strengthen drug regulatory authorities and their powers to enforce drugs laws and regulations, having observed here that no other [global] product has the capacity to harm or to kill as doillicit pharmaceuticals.

“This will require strict regulatory processes, inter – regional surveillance and monitoring systems, information sharing among ECOWAS member states, capacity building and regulatory strengthening at both national and regional levels”, she said Monday, 10 April before declaring opened the ECOWAS Parliament Delocalized Joint – Committee meeting on ECOWAS’ policy on combating counterfeit medical products and expired drugs.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ECOWAS Parliamentary conference at the Boulevard Palace in Sinkor, Monrovia, theECOWAS Chairperson strengthening drug regulatory authorities will help curb the incidenceof counterfeiting drugs.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament MoustaphaCisse Lo led members ofthe regional body’s legislative arm at the meeting Monday anddelivered a statement in French.

Mrs. Sirleaf encouraged a more effective oversight to be carried outon the pharmaceutical industry, adding that illicit pharmaceuticals are lucrative businesses withprojections that indicate profit from counterfeiting today whichsurpass gains made from heroin and cocaine.

Mrs. Sirleaf says the existence of substandard drugs and falsifiedcounterfeit drugs post a serious and unacceptable risk to publichealth, adding that it’s a major cause of mobility, mortality and lossof public confidence … in medicine and in health structures.

“We are concerned that despite the closed cooperation among drugcompanies, governments, international organizations concerned withtrade, health , customs and exiles on counterfeiting, the prevalenceof counterfeit drugs appears to be rising”, Mrs. Sirleaf says.

The ECOWAS Chair therefore assured regional lawmakers of the continued support of all member states for the work that they do. She concluded during the event on Monday that the counterfeiting of medical products and the sale of obsolete products affect every region of the world.

She says these include medicines from major health categories likevaccines and diagnostic, representing public health risk and continueto undermine the efforts of all governments to provide betterhealth services.

Earlier, House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay thanked the ECOWAS Parliament for choosing Monrovia for its delocalized meeting, and also thanked President Sirleaf for attending the meeting to share the experience of the regional lawmakers.

He warned that the proliferation of expired and counterfeit drugs andmedicine is alarming in Liberia, and cited Nigeria among countriesthat serve as conduit of such drugs.

Speaker Nuquay also noted that China and India are two major suppliers of the counterfeit and expired drugs. He warned unscrupulous individuals to stop taking advantage of security weakness and the porosity of Liberian borders to import counterfeit drugs here. He pledged the Legislature’s support in combating counterfeit drugs.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited By Othello B. Garblah

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