Concerns are rising over the donations of expired drugs to the Government of Liberia health sector by UNICEF, a UN agency. It is not clear whether these drugs get expired while in route to Liberia or on the shores of Liberia, primarily at the port of entries but what is certain is that they arrived for donation -expired.
The latest expired drugs are two huge consignments-3M respirators and anti-malaria drugs brought into the country on December 8 and 9, 2015 respectively by UNICEF for donation to the Liberian Government were 98% expired after being tested by authorities at the National Drugs Service or NDS, a local agency responsible for drugs here.
These drugs arrived at the time the government of Liberia was disposing of some expired drugs value at US15m also donated by some international donors. These drugs came in nearly expired as well.
At least several senior officials at the NDS were relieved of their posts for poor management after it was noticed that some of the drugs got expired while being stored at its ware house on the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital Compound.
But what is more puzzling about these latest consignments is that after being tested and told that the drugs were 98% expired and that the government could not take it, UNICEF officials were said to have redirected the distribution to the World Health Organization or WHO to apparently convince local health authorities here to take delivery of the consignments.
Health Ministry spokesman Sorbor George, confirmed that indeed the 3M respiratory drugs and the anti-malaria drugs actually came in 98% expired but that it was rejected by the government after it was tested and discovered to be expired drugs.
Mr. George also confirmed that after the government of Liberia rejected the drugs, the donors took it to the WHO here in Monrovia and the WHO also rejected them. Mr. George said such donations are examples of how donors bring in some of these expired drugs to dump them on the laps of the government.
Liberia, is a country with poor health care system. Not only is the country battling to improve its health system but also to prevent sub-standard drugs which have their own side effects from flooding the market.
Authorities will now have to step up their game as they resist the temptation of accepting these expired products from major donors. Officials at the UNICEF office here could not be reached for comment as at the time of filing this article.