In a bid to ensuring public health safety, the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone(PBSL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has on 18th July, 2020, at the Bailor Wharf, Port Loko District, destroyed a consignment of seized illegally imported and counterfeit medicines that worth over 200 million Leones from Guinea.
It could be recalled that on March 30, 2020, the attention of the registrar of PBSL was drawn to a boat with medicines that was intercepted off shore by a Navy Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Emmanuel Manga Kallie,
PBSL together with other stakeholders including Resident Minister North-West Region, and representatives from the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), National Revenue Authority (NRA) Officers and Sierra Leone Navy later inspected, weighed and quantified the seized and illegal consignment, and found out that the medicines were counterfeit and expired. It was later suggested that it should be destroyed by burning.
The Deputy Registrar of PBSL, Dr. Mohamed Sesay, said the board was grateful to the Navy Commanding Officer, Lt. Commander Emmanuel Manga Kallie, who showed his patriotic attribute by intercepting, arresting and handing over the consignment to Pharmacy Board. Adding that his action was enough to show that the joint efforts of stopping smuggled and counterfeit drugs into Sierra Leone is taking a central stage.
He continued that the destruction of the drugs in the presence of all and sundry was a deliberate action by PBSL that will serve as a deterrent to those unpatriotic individuals who believe that they can endanger the health of the general public for their selfish gains. Noting that the value of the consignment may be huge in the eyes of the public, but the damage it would have cost to public health in Sierra Leone would have surpassed its value.
"These assorted drugs were illegally imported to Sierra Leone from neighbouring Guinea, and PBSL has never issued license to any importer of drugs from Guinea. As President Bio always says, corruption is a disease that needs to be fought with a united force and what we have done is a good example of uniting against corruption," he said.
He further stated that PBSL has different ways of inspecting drugs rather than by merely concentrating on the date. Nothing that counterfeit drug producers do everything possible to produce drugs which are similar to the real and certified ones.
Resident Minister, North-West, Haja Isata Abdulai-Kamara, said Commander Kallie has proven his worth in the military by exposing what she called devilish act. Adding that if citizen emulates the footsteps of Lieutenant Commander Kaillie, Sierra Leone will be a better place.
"It takes collective efforts to fight smuggling in Sierra Leone. This means, we all need to come on board and join the fight. After this destruction process, I believe that no one will ever try such act again," she said.
The NRA Head of Anti-Smuggling Unit for the North-West, Peter Dawah, said the only two entry points that are legal for importers of drugs are Lungi Airport and Water Quay, noting that no other points were permitted.
"If someone uses the two legal entry points for drugs importation into Sierra Leone the government benefits from the tax. It should be a win-win situation rather than you alone benefiting at the detriment of others. But the owners of this illegal consignment deliberately failed to go through the prescribed procedures because they knew that their consignment of drugs was counterfeit," he said.
The Team Lead of PBSL in Lungi, John Akar, said although the value of the illegal consignment was a whopping amount, but that PBSL always seeks solace in the general well-being of the public than any amount.
"PBSL is charged with the constitutional responsibility to regulate medicines and how it is brought to the country, so it leaves no stone unturned in its verge to protect the public safety," John Akar said.