LACK of manpower to effectively regulate drug stores in Zambia is a big challenge facing the nation, says Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZMRA) public relations manager Ludovic Mwape.
Mr Mwape said while there have been routine inspections of drug stores around Zambia, ZMRA was facing a number of challenges including inadequate manpower that prevented it from conduction countrywide inspections.
He said the authority was already putting structures in place to try and decentralize its operations by involving other government departments in fighting illegal drugs business.
“We are trying everything possible to remove unprofessional elements from the sale of clinical medicines in the communities.
“The law has been revised which has increased mandate for ZMRA to effectively accomplish its role in management of medicines in the country,” he said.
He explained that the regulatory authority planned to engage the Zambia Police, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the local authorities in monitoring the establishments and operation of all drug stores to try and reduce the illegalities in their operations.
He said ZMRA was concerned with the high levels of unregistered drug stores on the market which in most cases were also being managed by untrained personnel.
“In our most recent raids, we targeted 50 drug stores in Lusaka Province and the Copperbelt where we confiscated a number of medicines including those which are not authorized for use in Zambia,” he said.
Mr Mwape has since called for cooperation from members of the public and various stakeholders to come on board and assist ZMRA in carrying out its mandate to ensure Zambians were exposed to proper medicines dispensed by trained professionals.
He said the authority has since embarked on a public sensitization programme to educate people about the dangers of buying medicines from uncertified drug stores and from peddlers with unsafe storage facilities for the medicines.
Mr Mwape was reacting to a story in the Daily Nation which accused ZMRA and other stakeholders of being too idle in supervising operations of drug stores most of which were managed by unqualified persons who in some cases sold expired drugs.