The Ministry of Health says it has found that 53% of medicines available at private pharmacies in seven regions failed one or more of the quality assurance tests done.
This was revealed by Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy who said even though great strides had been made in the fight against malaria care has to be taken to ensure that the situation doesn’t spin out of control.
Cooperation from stakeholders is however important and he noted that the requisite medication is available free of cost at public health facilities and all that is required is for a diagnosis to be done.
“I must emphasize that all the medicines procured by the Ministry of Health are from manufacturers licensed to manufacture these medicines and all the medicines have undergone rigid quality assurance testing before we procure them”, Ramsammy said.
He noted that with the help of PAHO/WHO and USAID, the Ministry of Health conducted a survey of 45 pharmacies and shops in regions 1,2,4,7,8,9 and 10.
Seventy seven specimens of anti-malarial artemesinin-based medicines were examined and the tests were done in the USA.
“For people who prefer to merely buy malaria medicines from these places, instead of going to the health care facilities, they should note that the medicines they buy might be useless.
“For example, the survey showed that 53% of the medicines (44 out of the 77) failed one or more of the quality assurance tests done”, Ramsammy said.
Further, in all instances, the medicines were found to be stored in inappropriate conditions which might make them less effective. He added that the practice of self-medication is dangerous and is presently affecting the fight against malaria.
One of the encouraging signs from the study, he said, is that the previous practice of importing monotherapy artemesinin seems to be reducing as more than 64% of the pills were combination pills, with artemesinin and other malaria medicines in a single pill.