MoH: Cracking Down on Quality Drugs and Operations

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Updated: May 8, 2017

The development of a national online drug registry is in progress with the objective of having quality and standard medication distributed to consumers in Belize.  It is an endeavour that has created some challenges in the health sector but according to the Director of Health Services, Dr Marvin Manzanero, it is a necessity.

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“We have completed our initial listing for the drug registry, we started the creation of that data base, we have now a full online system in terms of GMP certificates of which medications have, which suppliers are there and we hope to have that drug registry completed by the end of this calendar year. So in the new tender process that has been completed and are about to be signed any moment now, we will seek full enforcing of those regulation in the new tender cycle.”

RENEE TRUJILLO

“With this whole process happening to standardize the whole medication system and the drug registry has there been any kind of negative effects in terms of shortage of medication or absence of medication in the different pharmacies?”

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“It’s a yes and no, at first you are going to see that there was a shortage of medications in the public and I think some in the private sector but the caveat to that and what we are trying to explain to people is whatever medication you will not find in a public health facility is going to meet all those health requirements that were previously not being enforced so now I’m able to ascertain that what you have has gone through all that rigorous process. So in the past I wasn’t fully able to ascertain that across the board so back then I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that 100% of the medications have gone through a certification process. Now we had said that its going to take a couple of months and perhaps not more than a year before we could nail this down completely so in this new tender process I don’t think we should have that problem we should be able to ascertain that all medications within the public system meet all the international requirements and that they are quality medications that are being given.”

As Belize is preparing to up its standards on the importation of pharmaceuticals, there is the concern by some that certain medication would be brought in illegally.  We asked Dr Manzanero if this is a concern of the ministry as well.

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“We do but it’s also a collective effort. The community needs to know that whatever they are buying in contraband we cannot ascertain that it is what it is. We rely on customs and other entities helping us counteract that. We rely on the supplier also because they are doing something unethical, they are bringing things that have not gone through the process so its multiple layers, we acknowledge that we will not be able to deal with all the contraband medications that can potentially come in so its going to require community cohesive effort in order for us to ascertain that we have quality medication across the country.”

The standard of the pharmaceuticals is not the only thing the Ministry of Health is seeking to improve on.  The Ministry of Health is now enforcing the regulation whereby a certified pharmacist must be present at all times in drug stores.

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“The pharmacies that don’t have a pharmacist really shouldn’t be operating it’s illegal. We can’t do all the monitoring I think we’ve recognized that we rely on the community being able to flag those issues, you have all the right to ask where the pharmacist is when you go to a facility to avoid getting things that you are not supposed to be getting. Whenever there are other pharmacists then they are operating illegally.”

RENEE TRUJILLO

“And these pharmacies around the country have been informed that it is mandatory to have a certified pharmacist.”

DR MARVIN MANZANERO

“Everybody knows, they have always known it has been there for years, we are now being stricter in our enforcement but everybody knows that that is a requirement and it’s in the law and it has been there for years now.”

There are about 60 registered pharmaceutical importers in Belize.