The Managing Director of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), Pharm. Keturah C. Smith, is calling on the Government and international partners to lend more support to the institution; especially the improvement of the testing laboratory.
Appearing as guest on the Freedom Morning Ride, on Freedom FM in Monrovia, the LMHRA MD said the major challenge currently confronting the institution is the improvement of the lab as well as the provision of more reagents.
She also decried the issue of the lack of manpower and logistics as some of the core challenges confronting the LMHRA. Managing Director Smith further recounted the lack of staff at the major border points of the country.
However, the LMHRA boss attributed the many challenges affecting the entity to the lack of adequate funding. However, Madam Smith noted that despite these challenges, the entity is still reinforcing rigorous inspections of all medicines and health products brought in the country.
She also noted that currently, LMHRA only has two vehicles that are being used for inspection; something she noted is insufficient to conduct nationwide inspection.
Madam Smith vowed to ensure that the capacities of the inspectors are built and their integrity is at an all-time high so that they don’t compromised.
MD Smith however argued that the lab is functioning and they are carrying on visual testing of medicines and health products brought in the country.
However, the LMHRA has further disclosed that the institution is working with international partners including Global Fund to augment the lab and get more reagents (WHO), the World Bank and the United States Aid for International Development (USAID).
MD Smith vowed to ensure that she makes the LMHRA laboratory upgraded up to international standard like other institutions in the region.
Madam Smith said confiscating these expired medicines and products from the market is not for witch-hunting or to extort money from business people, but to streamline and ensure medicines, cosmetics and health products brought in the country are safe, efficacious and quality assured for the public.
According to her, she intent to build the human capacity of her employees and also ensure the lab is rehabilitated by the end of this year.
Madam Smith is however calling on the public to avoid buying medicines and health products from street peddlers and unrecognized institutions.
She said the LMHRA needs over US$1,000,000 to revamp the lab and also relocate the laboratory into an area that is suitable for both testing and waste disposal.
Appearing also with the LMHRA boss, the Pharmaceutical Information Officer, Juwe Kercula, vowed to ensure adequate information, community awareness, and media engagements are carried out so as to ensure people avoid purchasing fake medicines and health products.
He noted that the LMHRA generates information from the public and the various departments especially the inspectorate department to inform their decision for raid fake drugs and harmful health products on the market.
Kercula indicated that once the LMHRA discovers expired products, the entity carried on awareness and published these expired medicines and health products discovered from importers, wholesalers, retailers and street peddlers.
He said owing to the fact that there isn’t stronger law on the book to enforce those apprehended; the LMHRA imposed huge fines on would-be perpetrators so as to curtail such negative vices.
“Like my MD said, health is wealth and life, so we are calling on the public to avoid buying medicines from unrecognized persons and stores because we cannot traced these people in the case of any harm to your body,” Kercula explained.
Meanwhile, several persons who called on the phone-in show urged the Executive and the Legislature to allocate in the next budget year, adequate funding for the LMHRA.
Also calling on the program, several employees of the LMHRA lauded the MD for her tremendous development at the entity over a rather short period of time.
The employees also called on President George Manneh Weah and the Legislature to buttress the effort of MD Smith and her team in order to make the entity viable and comparable to others in the region.