Lawmakers in Sierra Leone have unanimously enacted the National Medical Supplies Agency Act of 2017, thus repealing and replacing the National Pharmaceutical Procurement Unit (NPPU) Act of 2012.
The Act also aims at establishing the National Medical Supplies Agency as a Public Service Agency that would be responsible for the procurement, warehousing and distribution of drugs and other medical supplies in a transparent, accountable, and in a cost-effective manner for all public institutions across the country.
The Bill should have been enacted a fortnight ago, but the House detected some anomalies which prompted them to revert it to the Legislative Committee who made some recommendations that were adopted.
The Committee recommended among other clauses that procuring and selling of medical supplies of requisite quality and efficacy should be consistent with the Pharmacy Act.
Earlier, Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah, recommended to the House that they passed the bill into law.
He said prior to the enactment of the National Medical Supplies Agency Act of 2017, procurement of drugs was done through the NPPU which led to massive destruction of expired drugs due to lack of storage and delay in distribution .
He said with the provision in the current Act, the procurement and storage of drugs would be addressed by the Agency as government has disbursed lot of funds in the health sector.
"There has been too much wastage in the storage and distribution of drugs. When you go to the hospital, nurses and doctors would tell patients that there are no drugs in store but in the end they destroy it, which is not good for us as a nation," he said.
The minister told lawmakers that it was after several consultations with State House and other sectors; they resolved into setting up an Agency that would help improve the health system in the country.
In his contribution, Deputy Chairman of Health Committee, Hon. Alhassan Kamara, stated that the bill was timely as the medical field was in its recovery stage.
He said the NPPU has failed to perform its mandate as it had encountered several problems which led to the destruction of many lives across the country due to the shortage and misuse of drugs.
"It is now the role of the House to make laws that will suit and benefit the people and provide solution to the problem it's faced. The bill, if enacted, will reduce wastages and cost. We want to see an act that will stand the test of time in the country," he said.
On his part, opposition lawmaker, Hon. Jusufu B. Mansaray, berated NPPU for their failure to control the many fake and drugs that have been entering into the country without proper monitory by NPPU.
"If we are talking about poor medical, it is because of the above reason. The short title of the bill can tell us that the ministry wants to cut down health hazards in order to address the issue of drug wastages in the health sector. Drug peddlers in the street should be of concern to us all and should be stopped," he said.