Liberia: Major Govt Lab for Testing Medicine, Health Products Not Functional

Monrovia — The Liberia Medicine and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LNHRA) has disclosed that the only laboratory available for the testing of the wholesomeness of medical products coming into the country is not functional.

This means LNHRA has no means of determining whether drugs that are being imported to the country are good for human consumption.

LNHRA was enacted into law by the National Legislative and begun functioning as a government agency in 2010 to regulate all pharmaceuticals including, medicines, x-rays, pills, reagents used in labs and anything concerning diagnosing and treatment of illness.

The entity comprises of four key technical departments: Quality Control Lab, Registration & Evaluation Department, Inspectorate Department and Pharmacovigilance Department.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing on Thursday, January 23, LNHRA Managing Director, Keturah C. Smith said, the entity is challenged because it does not have a functional lab.

"The lab was attacked by fire in 2017 - three years ago - and since then, the lab has been struggling to meet up with standards. Basically what the lab does now is just visual inspection, almost all the equipment are down; there are no reagents and we are not even in a safe environment where we can do full companion testing" Smith said.

She, however, stressed the importance for the government to make sure that its citizens are safe because in the case of sickness no one can determine the quality of medical products that are used on him or her.

"Especially when you are unconscious, once you are rushed into the hospital, whatsoever that they have there, they will use it [drugs] whether it of quality or not; whether you have the money to pay for the quality ones nobody will care at that moment so it is the LNHRA responsibility to make sure that everybody has access to quality medication and health products," she said.

She assured that her entity is committed to making sure that all pharmaceuticals are safe for use, effective and of high quality.

The LNHRA boss also disclosed that the agency has often and frequently transported pharmaceuticals to other countries in the sub-region including the Republic of Ghana for testing before these imported drugs are used in Liberia, something she termed as "quite expensive" for the country.

To solve the problem, Ms. Smith has increased her calls to the government to invest in the LNHRA in order to meet the World Health Organization's standard.

"Every day, I'm thinking how to get our partners and donors on board to come and help us and most especially the government of Liberia to at least start something," she said.

"I intend on building an office and even start the foundation for the lab on a parcel of land that we have that donors will come and see and be impressed to help us."

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