The Managing Director of the Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) Pharmacist Keturah C. Smith says; with some level of progress being made at the authority, she envisaged zero-street peddling of pharmaceuticals in the coming years, especially in the Monrovia areas.
She made the remarks at a program marking her 2nd Anniversary & aligning her achievements as Managing Director of the LMHRA. Pharmacist Smith noted that; travelling in some regions on the continent, it is observed that; it is highly forbidden and non-existing to see people selling medicines in buckets, market tables or in the open as it is carried out in Liberia.
“With support from the Government of Liberia and partners, The LMHRA will go all out in ensuring that those involved with selling of pharmaceuticals in buckets, back bags and in the open, are totally eradicated from the Liberian society,”.
Therefore, Pharmacist Smith has instructed the Inspectorate Department of the LMHRA to increase their Post Market Surveillance activities across Liberia.
According to her, upon her ascendency as Managing Director of the authority, she was confronted with many challenges, but with God’s guidance, the support of both the technical and administrative staff, these challenges ranging from logistic, infrastructure and administrative policies have now taken root over the last two years.
She continued: “With these achievements, I don’t count myself as being the only person who deserved all the praises. I dedicate these achievements to all of my staff of LMHRA as I urged everyone to double up and do more in the incoming year of activities.
The LMHRA boss stressed the need for the decentralization of the authority to work and raid the market of substandard, falsified, counterfeit and expired medicines from the society as well provide education/sensitization to the public in order to help the eradication of street peddling.
Managing Director Smith further hinted that; she envisaged the authority of the LMHRA to push further in terms of regulations and policy so that the authority can be compared to other regional regulatory authorities.
“My goal over the next few years is to see the LMHRA being compared to other regional regulatory bodies in the region; therefore, I asked every one of us to exert more efforts over the coming years so as to enable the authority to grow,” she admonished staffers.
She continued: the gains we are celebrating here today, is not only about me, mine is to play the leadership or managerial role; that is why sometimes, I am tough on you, my actions are not meant to look down on anyone or target a particular person, but to ensure the right things are done for the growth and development of the entity.”
“These achievements are not my making, but all of us, because of the concerted efforts of all of you, we are here celebrating the gains made over the last two years. So I urged every staff member to uphold the togetherness and let’s work to make the next years and the years ahead more achievable for a better health outcome for our people.”
At the same time, Pharmacist Smith used the occasion to thank President George Manneh Weah for believing in young leadership thereby reposing his confidence in her to head the LMHRA.
“I cannot tarnish recommendations of other young people that is why we exert all of these efforts at the LMHRA here in order to leave a good mark that will pave the way for other young people to follow,” MD Smith noted.
According to her, the confidence reposed in her by the President of Liberia, gives her the urge to push every day to ensure the mission, vision and core values of the authority is achieved.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Liberia National Lottery Authority (LNLA), Reginald Nagbe, who attended the ceremony has also extolled the achievements of the LMHRA Managing Director in a quick summary.
Director General Nagbe further admonished Pharmacist Smith not to waiver in her zeal to ensure that the LMHRA is compared to other regional pharmaceutical regulators in the sub region.
“Age does not matter, what matters is wisdom and leadership to achieve your goal or target; so, I admonish you to keep your mission, vision and core value alive in order to see our society eradicated of substandard falsified and counterfeit medicines,” he asserted.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Board of LMHRA, Professor Hasipha Tarpeh, said he was gratified that the entity that he refers to as his “brainchild” is making tremendous progress under the leadership of Managing Director Smith.
He continued: “We have come a long way as an institution and we have a million mile to go. You have made tremendous achievements but you still have more to achieve. So on behalf of the Board, we say thank you; because you are here.”
He also said that Managing Director Smith placed primer on training of her staff. “Please put training as your number one priority in the coming years.
According to him, in order to meet the global benchmark in the pharmaceutical sector, the need for quality training of LMHRA staff cannot be overly emphasized.
“You have started a good milestone, but I am encouraging you to continue; and also ensure that you also have control at all port of entries. Our country’s borders are porous; so make sure by next year, your presence is in all port of entries,” Board Chairman Tarpeh emphasized.
Prior to her ascendency, Pharmacist Smith met an authority heavily indebted to staff and vendors, less post market surveillance activities, due to the lack of logistics, huge financial burden for the rental of the head office, challenged quality control laboratory, one-non regional offices established, lack of information communication technology and policy challenges.
Assuming what seems as a “daunting challenge,” Managing Director Smith hit the ground running by ensuring that employees’ salaries and debts to vendors were settled, negotiation for more logistics started, thus leading to the acquisition of a high-top vehicle by Global Fund and two other procured by the entity for both PMS purposes for both head office and region-two.
The construction of the mini- lab and the ongoing construction of the World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified Quality Control Lab and the procurement of chemicals, reagents, equipment that was done by the LMHRA, Government of Liberia United States Pharmacopeia PQM+, Global Fund and the West African Health Organization.
Also, under the leadership of Pharmacist Smith, regulations were written after 10 years since authority was established in September of 2010.dd
Under Managing Director Smith’s leadership also, two buses including a mini-bus was purchased for movement of staff of the Quality Control Lab as well as a 32-seated Coaster bus for staff of the head office.
Within her two years at the helm of the LMHRA, Pharmacist Smith has also established three functioning regional offices at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), taking care of Montserrado, Margibi and Bassa; another in Gbarnga, Bong County, overseeing, Bong, Lofa and Nimba; while another was established in Bo-waterside, Grand Cape Mount Counties supervising Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties respectively.
In the area of educating the public on the danger of substandard, falsified and counterfeit medicines which pose treats to their health, the LMHRA Managing Director ensure jingles were produce in simple Liberian English and local Liberian vernaculars and aired both on several major radio stations in Monrovia as well as few community radios in Bong, Nimba and Bomi Counties.