18 February 2013

Liberia: 'You Aren't Doctors'

Liberia's Health and Social Welfare Minister has warned dispensers against seeing themselves as doctors and nurses.

Dr. Walter Gwenigale said dispensers should sell and serve drugs to patients based on doctor's prescription and should avoid involving themselves with prescription and treatment of people at their various drugstores and pharmacies.

Speaking at the official launch of the Accredited Medicine Stores (AMS) in Monrovia, Dr. Gwenigale said the government of Liberia will not hesitate to arrest and prosecute dispensers who will be caught in prescribing drugs and treating patients at their drug stores.

The Health Minister said he has observed over the years especially in rural Liberia that most drugstore owners usually closed their stores in order to take medicine to various market places in buckets and bags.

He told dispensers who were initially trained as part of the AMS program to serve as ambassadors to sensitize their colleagues against the selling of drugs in buckets, on market tables, street corners and other unsafe environments.

"Some of you are working for people; practice what you have learnt; don't let your bosses dictate to you..." Dr. Gwenigale said.

He also warned dispensers and drugstore owners against stealing from the government by buying government drugs and other medications.

Dr. Gwenigale said the government would not also hesitate to confiscate government drugs and medications that will be seen in any drugstore and pharmacy.

The Health Minister said: "Don't let people in the health system sell government drugs to you."

In her welcome remarks, the chairperson of the Liberia Medicine and Health Product Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) also warned the dispensers against selling expired drugs to patients.

"Don't buy medicines from the eighteen tire trucks that usually come from across the borders because they are cheap," Madam Clavenda-Bright Parker said.

Supported by the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the LMHRA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Pharmacy Board of Liberia (PBL) launched the Sustainable Drug Sellers Initiative (SDSI). The AMS program is therefore a key component of the SDSI.

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