Liberia: LMHRA Operations At Standstill

-- Meanwhile, IGORCADIA project ends

Aggrieved workers at the Liberia Medicine and Health Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) are appealing to President George M. Weah to lift the freeze order on the bank account of the institution. According to James D.K. Goteh, pharmacy director of the LMHRA, since the the President declared the ban order, the operations of the institution have come to a standstill, thus putting Liberians at risk with counterfeit drugs.

Goteh made the appeal on behalf of the aggrieved workers on Friday, September 20, 2019, at a ceremony marking the fifth meeting of the diagnostics steering committee in Monrovia.

According to Goteh, the LMHRA is not working effectively due to the lack of fuel for the generator and calibration of the laboratory equipment.

"We also believe working together will be in the interest of the Liberian people. If we do not work, Liberians will get affected because if there are fake drugs on the market, the medical doctors will not be able to achieve their desired goals. So we are pledging with the government so that this nightmare can be resolved," Goteh said.

He said since the President's freeze order on the LMHRA's finances, staffers of the institution have also not taken pay for the past five months and, because of that, most of them are not showing up for work.

"We have children, and they need to go to school," Goteh said. "Not that we do not have money, but our account is frozen. As such, we are calling on the rightful authorities and the President to do the right thing so that we can come out of this nightmare."

It can be recalled that on August 7, 2019, the office of President George Weah released a statement declaring a freeze order on the LMHRA's bank accounts, after Senator Saah Joseph unilaterally appointed an individual of his choice to head the entity. According to the statement, President Weah described the move by the senator as an "attempted usurpation" of the President's constitutional authority.

IGORCADIA project ends

In another development, staff of LMHRA have concluded a two-day project aimed at strengthening the entity's capacity on the use of diagnostics of infectious diseases in the country.

The Improved Governance and Research Capacities in Diagnostics for Infectious Diseases (IGORCADIA) project also helped the LMHRA to supervise and inspect the use of diagnostics in the frame of clinical research.

IGORCADIA project manager, Christiana M. Sanchez, who spoke to journalists on Friday, September 20, 2019, said the project aimed to build the LMHRA's capacity in the revision, design, conduct, and dissemination of research on novel diagnostics for infectious diseases such as Lassa fever, Ebola, HIV, and Malaria.

Ms. Sanchez said the IGORCADIA project which kicked off on December 2017 was funded by the European Union and Developing Countries Clinical Trial partnership.

She said the project offers training for LMHRA and opportunities with other regulatory authorities in West Africa.

LMHRA acting managing director Joseph Redd and head of registration and evaluation, Akio Fahnbulleh, said the overall goal of the IGORCADIA project, is to improve the registration of and research on infectious disease diagnostics in Liberia by strengthening capacities within the LMHRA.

The project is a two-year program, which kicked-off in Monrovia since December of 2017 and has climaxed with capacity building programs for the LMHRA and the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital on infectious disease diagnostics.

He then used the occasion to thank LMHRA's many partners, including the European Union and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, who have funded the two-year IGORCADIA project, noting that said project is beneficial to Liberia.

The LMHRA's inspector for post-market surveillance, Madam Diana Jeator, termed the meeting as final the segment of intensive research and brainstorming which has resulted in the development of regulatory film work for the regulation of individual diagnostic.

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