The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently donated several pieces of critical testing equipment to the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) for its quality control laboratory to assure that all medicines and health products entering Liberia meet rigorous quality standards.
Liberian President George Manneh Weah attended the handover ceremony on May 13 where USAID, through its Promoting the Quality of Medicines Plus (PQM+) program, donated equipment, parts, and reference standards worth more than US$300,000.
The May 13 donation included high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipment; devices to conduct a chemical process called Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR); assorted laboratory glassware, reference standards to guide the assessment of tested medicines; and other laboratory supplies and consumables.
Substandard and falsified medicines undermine Liberia’s ability to address malaria, maternal and child health concerns, and family planning needs. Using state-of-the-art testing equipment, LMHRA’s lab can ascertain the quality of medicines and health products on the Liberian market.
The USAID Health Office Director, Jessica Healey, noted at the handover event that the equipment will enable Liberia to perform its own quality testing on medicines and other health products, rather than shipping samples out for testing in other countries. Ensuring that medicines meet established pharmaceutical standards, of internationally recognized compendia, will be more efficient and cost-effective in LMHRA’s own facility.
“Conducting compendial testing in Liberia now will have several benefits,” Healey said. “It will be cheaper and faster. … It means the lab is gradually moving towards sustainability because they will be able to generate funds from fees charged for sample testing.”
Enhanced testing capacity at the LMHRA lab will enable it to participate in proficiency testing and perform other quality audits, making it eligible for accreditation to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/ International Electrotechnical Commission (.IEC) 17025 Standard
President Weah noted that health care for Liberia’s citizens is an essential part of the government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) and emphasized the need for a high-functioning quality control lab. “It is vital to have a system for inspecting the quality of medical products on the Liberian market,” he said. “The commitment of my administration to a healthy nation remains unwavering.”
LMHRA Managing Director Keturah Smith-Chineh thanked USAID for the donation and the U.S. Government’s support to the LMHRA since its establishment. She noted that the lab is the foundation and pillar of all regulatory processes, and ongoing support from USAID and PQM+ has included chemicals, reagents, equipment, training, and capacity building. USAID’s PQM+ program, implemented by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), provides technical assistance in more than 20 countries to assure the quality of medicines and health products. In Liberia, PQM+ works to increase LMHRA’s capacity to carry out regulatory functions to ensure the quality of medical products in country.