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Sierra Leone News: Pharmacy Board Expands

One of the digital testing machine

One of the digital testing machine

“Established 29-years ago, the Pharmacy Board was created by an Act of Parliament. At that time, the Board was housed in a two room office in a wooden structure of the Chief Pharmacist of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation”.
Speaking to his audience, at the National Headquarters of the Board at New England Ville, the Registrar for the PBSL, Wiltshire Johnson, who is also a certified Pharmacist, disclosed that from three staff in 1988, the Board has grown and expand on its operations and to date the Board has 182 full time staff and part time highly skilled professionals, operating out of a nationally owned and constructed Headquarters and extended laboratory complex, supported by 4 fully functional regional offices in Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Kono, including two port of entry offices at Lungi and Queen Elizabeth Quay.
“From 4 departments, the Board’s functions have expanded to 11 administrative and technical departments”.
The Sierra Leone Pharmacy Board on Friday 16th June 2017 officially unveiled their Laboratory extension building at New England Ville for testing medicines and other healthcare products.
The vision was spearheaded by the initiative of the Pharmaceutical Society of Sierra Leone, the former Chief Medical Officer and the Minister of Health and Sanitation in a bid to provide the legislative infrastructural, administrative social frame-work for the regulation and control of the Pharmacy profession, Pharmaceutical service and of the quality and safety of drug and medical supplies.
The problems of drug smuggling across our porous borders from unregulated markets in neighbouring countries, irrational drug use by consumers, drug peddling and street hawking of drugs remain unabated due to lack of collaboration from major stakeholders in health care protection and delivery. “These challenges are serious concerns that continue to undermine our national healthcare delivery efforts”.
Johnson added that based on current scope of work, there was a need to expand the Board’s laboratory capacity, and also the quest to attain International certification and ISO standardization to reduce the reliance for testing of regulated products by other Internationally certified ISO labs as required by donor partners such as the Global fund, WHO, and the European Union.
The new expanded laboratory is now made up of 3 testing units, The Physico-Chemical Unit, The Medical Device Testing Unit, and The Microbiology Unit.
“These facilities are expected to serve at the forefront of public health protection to ensure the availability of good quality and efficacious product in Sierra Leone”, Johnson confirmed.
He reiterated that the Pharmacy Board is still a young organization and still faces a number of serious challenges, both logistical and financial coupled with a weak legislative instrument that does not make provision for all the current regulatory requirements of modern day health care delivery, inadequate numbers of regulatory staff and adequate political and administrative support in the enforcement of regulatory functions.
Representing the Health Minister, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer II, Dr. Amara Jambai explained that space constraints and the quest to prequalify for the ISO17025 EC: 2015, hampered productivity and further growth of regulatory capabilities of the Board. “To date, the Global fund spends huge amount of resources on testing of their products in external laboratories”.
He maintained that, this was the reason the Ministry decided to upgrade the existing structure at a cost of Le1.2 billion, to address the limitations faced at the old premises, but also provides for future expansion to deal with new regulatory challenges.
Dr. Jambai commended the administration of the PBSL for continuing with the infrastructural development in line with Government’s agenda to improve on the healthcare delivery sector, noting that the investment in advanced pharmaceutical regulation will continue especially in the area of soliciting and advocating to donors to give more support to strengthen the Board, towards achieving prequalification or ISO certification.
Laboratories of high standards in the country will serve as the cornerstone of medicine regulation is critical in preventing anti-malarial resistance, counterfeiting, treatment failure and proliferation of standard products.
“There is still room for the Pharmacy Board to grow and continue to maintain a high level of regulatory activities”, Dr. Jambai concluded.
AC17/6/17
By Ade Campbell
Monday June 19, 2017.

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