To discourage students from purchasing medicines and health products from street peddlers, the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) has climaxed a 16-day public awareness campaign in 28 public and private high schools in Montserrado County. The campaign was launched on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, at the William V. S. Tubman High School in Monrovia.
The awareness in the schools was geared towards meeting with school administrations and students grouping and informing them about the importance of raising awareness on the risk associated with Substandard and Falsified (SF) medicines among the Liberian population. It was also intended to discourage these school-going kids from purchasing Substandard & Falsified Medicines & Health Products from those selling medicines in the streets, otherwise referred to as Drug/Street Peddlers.
With the help of two of Liberia’s finest comedians in persons of Geezy Bahn, alias “Wedigar” and Future Doe; used their comical talents to draw the student’s attention and also explained the awareness message thru simplified Liberian English and comedy.
At the official opening of the program, the Managing Director of the LMHRA Pharmacist Keturah C. Smith-Chineh cautioned students to avoid buying medicines from drug peddlers because the conditions under which these peddlers sell these medicines are not conducive and because these medications are further exposed to harsh conditions such as exposure to sunlight, rainfall, not store under the right conditions, could be substandard and falsified medicines as well as the harsh conditions under which these medications are often imported into the country.
She revealed at the end of the zero drug peddling campaign, the entity embarked on vigorous inspections in Montserrado County in making sure to get rid of peddlers, even though it is kind of difficult to do.
Pharm. Chineh noted that the awareness was taken to the schools because most students may not know the harmful effects of buying medicines and health products from bags, tables, and buckets.
The initiative, solely supported by the Management of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority aimed to help guarantee the health safety of Liberians and other nationals in the country.
“You are the future leaders of this country, you should desist from buying medicines from street peddlers, most of whom did not acquire any knowledge on what they sell to citizens in the marketplaces, communities, and other areas or else, it will hamper your dream of becoming leaders for this great nation,” she warned the students.
Managing Director Smith-Chineh urged the students to serve as “Ambassadors” in their communities for the LMHRA to sensitize residents not to endanger their health by buying fake, substandard, and expired medicines and health products that are secretly brought into the country through land borders and sold on the Liberian market.
The LMHRA boss urged everyone to always purchase their medicines from pharmacies or drug stores to guarantee their safety. According to her, the health condition of citizens would turn from bad to worse if fake and substandard medicines are bought from the drug peddlers and taken.
She further said: “Medications that are kept in heat or sunlight have lost their potency or the ability to cure any illness.”
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, the Vice Principal for Students Affairs at the William V. S. Tubman High School, Madam Bass told the students to take the messages from the LMHRA very seriously and as well relay the same to their respective communities to help safe thousands of lives.
According to her, it was never a mistake for the William V. S. Tubman High School to have been chosen for the official launch of the awareness, based on its historical role in the Liberian society.
Making remarks at the closing of the project or awareness, at the R. C. Lawson High School, the Manager of Pharmaceutical Waste Management at the LMHRA, Dr. Jonathan J. Luciny, cautioned the students to not allow their health to be tampered with by people selling fake, expired, counterfeit and substandard medicines and health products. He added that most of those selling medicines in buckets and black bags, do not know the effects of what they are selling.
Remarking also, the Manager for Medicines Information at the LMHRA, Pharmacist Sancee Gray, said people should not be carried away by those peddlers who show identification cards (ID Cards) in the name of being health workers or graduated from medical schools; noting that a trained health worker or pharmacist will never sell medicines in buckets or bags; rather, would dispense medication in health facilities or registered pharmacies or medicines store.
The Liberia Medicines & Health Products Regulatory Authority has the statutory responsibility and mandate to “protect the public from the harmful effects of Substandard and Falsified (SF) Medicines and Health Products,” coupled with “ensuring that, in the national medicine supply system, only safe, effective, and good quality medicines reach the Liberian public. Also, the LMHRA is responsible to promulgate regulations to fight illegal trade in medicines, including counterfeit and adulterated medicines and health products and fair trade practices.”