The Pharmaceutical Information Officer of the Liberia Medicine Health Products Regulatory Authority or LMHRA says key focus of the Authority is to re-establish its quality control laboratory that was burned in May 2017 along with the National Drugs Service warehouse at the JFK hospital.
Juwe D. Kercula says the United States Government provided some mini lab that they have been using to analyze drugs sample, while complicated cases are usually flown out of the country to make sure they meet requisite standard.
“Our focus is that the Laboratory that was burned be re-established fully and functional; we lost equipment that we can use to analyze drugs. The World Bank came in and made some commitment in providing some laboratory equipment for us, and the Government of Liberia made some commitment too, to help us get our LAB started’, he explains.
He discloses that they are in the process of completing ongoing renovation process to subsequently install equipment donated, adding that that outside the laboratory, it would be very difficult to conduct accurate laboratory test, while sending drug samples out of the country is very costly.
Mr. Kercula continues that another key thing is to improve medicine information for public safety, noting that all Liberians take medicine when they are sick, but they do not know if the medicine reached the required standard.
“We have to educate the public and we have the LMHRA to regulate pharmaceuticals to make sure that only good quality medication comes into the country, however, there are some people who bring in some medication that are sub-standard and it will endanger our health”, he warns
According to him, since October 2016 they have not been able to carry out public awareness on how to take medicine and what kind of medicine to take because of low budgetary allotment, stressing the need budgetary support to enable them get out and educate the public through various community radio stations across the country.
Juwe explains that LMHRA would conduct post-market surveillance, which is to monitor quality of medicines that come on the Liberian market, including routine inspection for sub-standard medicines.
The market here is flooded with sub-standard and expired drugs brought to the country from the subregion, including Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria as well as India. These drugs are poorly stored and exposed in the sun, which often affect their potency, and create further complication for the public as they are often taken over the counter with no professional prescription from medical personnel.
By Ethel A. Tweh -Editing by Jonathan Browne