The Director-General of the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority, Mr. Hiiti Sillo has called for cross-border co-operation to effectively check the incidence of the importation of substandard goods, including certain foods and medicines.
Addressing a two-day seminar organized by the TFDA at Glonency Hotel in Morogoro, Mr. Sillo said: “Our bitter experience is that the control of fake and substandard drugs is a complicated issue, due to the fact that a good number of these do not enter through official border posts, thus in fact control needs co-operation between neighbouring states.”
He disclosed that in many cases the control of unwanted drugs has been affected by a number of issues, such as the shortage of staff, and lack of vital information from sources who decide to collaborate with law-breakers.
“It is strange that people tend to go for cheap things without knowing the ultimate consequences of using them, as it is the case with using fake, substandard or expired drugs, but the effects are altogether devastating, including death itself,” said Sillo.
Supporting this stance was Ms Charys Ugullum, said that identifying the harmfulness of any drug is a scientific process which involves the use of a laboratory for examination, but in many cases people either take for granted their security whenever they use drugs or sometimes they think laboratory experiments are just time-consuming.
“While we admit that there are fake and substandard drugs in the market, we request you journalists to allow us to conduct technical examinations, as we have such laboratories as can help in verifying the samples, before these matters are reported in the media,” she remarked.
She elaborated that currently the TFDA is well equipped for examining various food samples and medicines; and therefore urged whoever wants to establish a business or import such goods to use the services of her organization in order to ensure that end users are not ill-affected by such commodities.
On the other hand, a legal counsel with the TFDA, Meshack Shashi, said that implementation of laws with regard to importation and use of drugs has been successful, for his organization has conducted arrests and some of the culprits have received punishment in the courts of law.
However he noted that some of the law-breakers get minimum sentences up to the fine of 30,000/=, for crimes that are worth millions of shillings, a fact that has caused them to go back to the same illegal conduct.
In another presentation, by Emmanuel Alphonce, who dealt with the matter of control of foods and drugs, said that it demanded one’s having good training in order to discover what a fake medicine is and what is not.
“In some cases we have discovered that the covers of medicines do not necessarily represent what is inside, but this needs one to be knowledgeable, and at times requires laboratory experiments in order to verify,” he said.