December 4, 2020
In line with the one month WHO communication campaign on substandard and falsified medicines that was launched on the 30th October at its head office in Freetown, a team of regulators from the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone (PBSL) have on the 26th – 29th November, 2020, trained twenty four (24) District Health management Teams (DHMTs) and engaged 4 radio stations on substandard and falsified medicines in Bo and Kenema.
In his opening statement, the communication campaign coordinator, who doubles as the Enforcement Officer at PBSL, Pharm. Tamba Buffa, quickly relayed greetings, which he said were from the Registrar and the Head of Department who were unavoidably absent because of other equally important official engagements.
He said the training was informed by a report of a survey conducted by the World Health Organization, which was published in February 2020, and it stated among other things that about 10 percent of Sierra Leoneans still access medicines from unofficial sources like peddlers or hawkers. He added that the training was deliberately designed for the health care workers because they are the ones that interface directly with the community people, especially those that take medications.
“It is our belief that since you are the primary recipients of this training and mostly the first point of call for the community people, you will be able to effectively cascade to them all that you are going to learn with respect to substandard and falsified medicines. In other words, we are training you to be masters on the detection of substandard and falsified medicines when you come across them,” he said.
Pharm. Buffa continued that after the training of the Health Care Workers, there were plans to do community engagements, which will be used as another vehicle to take the campaign on substandard and falsified medicines to the hard-to-reach areas, but appealed to the participants to start preparing the minds of the community people on same.
In each of the four radio discussions in Bo and Kenema, the Head of Information and Communications Department at PBSL, Dr. Sahr Emmanuel Gbomor, explicitly defined substandard and falsified medicines and cited clear examples of both. He further explained to listeners that one of the ways to detect if drugs fall within the said categories is to observe if there are spelling or grammar mistakes on both the inner and outer packages, adding that as soon as such is detected, it means the said medicine is falsified.
Dr. Gbomor further explained that if someone sees alteration on the batch number, manufacturer’s address or expiring date, it means the medicine is falsified, he therefore encouraged all and sundry to be extra vigilant in the fight against substandard and falsified medicines by always doing thorough checking before taking them.
“For someone who does not read or write, the simple ways to detect substandard and falsified medicines are by smelling, touching or ordinary observation; for instance, if it has a bad odor that is different from the one you know; or if it is sticky and damped, it means it is also within the categories in question. If you notice any substandard or falsified medicine, please call pharmacy Board on 099-117-117” he concluded.
The training and radio talk shows were successful with a lot of positive reactions from the audience and participants.
For more information on this please contact
Information and Communication Department