Ethiopia: MPs Call for 'Tight' Control Over Smuggling of Unsafe Food, Medicine

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Lawmakers have urged the government to control the importation of food items and medicine via the eastern border of the country in what they call is posing public health hazard.

According to a statement issued by the parliament on Thursday, Members of the Women, Youth and Social Affairs Standing Committee have visited the five illegal entry points at border towns as well as various health posts where most of unregulated medicines are destined to be used.

Similarly, the MPs have also visited the Dire Dawa Branch of the Drug Administration and Control Authority (DACA). In the town, the visiting parliamentarians said that they witnessed the quality and standard of medicines and food items in the regional laboratory whereby they were told most of the imported items are either expired or below the required standards that eventually would cause serious hazard on public health.

However, the statement did not indicate from where the items are smuggled nor who smuggles it.

Officials of the Authority on their part briefed the lawmakers. According to them, the main challenge is the existing security related problems that they face in their pursuit to survey and control the illegal smuggling of "dangerous and unsafe food substance and medicines from the border areas to various towns."

However, the officials explained that over the past six months alone over 300 tons of low quality items and an almost completely expired items have been seized while they were being transported while some were confiscated from various hospitals and health posts in the Eastern part of the country.

According to officials of DACA, recently, medicines have been found in various private shops and pharmacies after they were illegally transported from DACA's regional office. What makes matters worse is that most of these medicines that were already distributed among the public were identified as dangerous and obsolete, according to the statement issued by the Parliament's Communication Office.

The Standing Committee urged the government to take immediate measures to implement the rule of law in all areas including the border entries as well as in market areas.

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