. . . fails to produce registration certificate
THE Ministry of Health has seized hundreds of expired drugs and medicines from a Maseru Industrial Area health centre with some from as far back as 2005.
Staff at the health centre — dubbed Chinese Medical Hospital — were also unable to produce a registration certificate to ministry officials, saying it was in the possession of the owner who was currently hospitalised in China.
According to the ministry’s Pharmaceutical Director, Gemina Mphoso, the raid was held earlier this month as part of the Pharmaceutical Directorate’s inspection of private and public health facilities around the country.
She said they encountered expired drugs and medicines such as contraceptives which were all labelled in Chinese in contravention of various local laws. The seized drugs, Ms Mphoso said, would be safely discarded in line with health regulations.
When the ministry sought an explanation on why the health centre was using expired drugs, they were told only the owner could answer the question, who was in hospitalised in China.
The Lesotho Times also visited the Chinese Medical Hospital, and observed that the receptionist was a woman of Chinese descent who could not understand English. There was also a Mosotho woman who worked as an assistant but did not have any medical qualifications.
A woman who identified herself as Ms Julia and served as an interpreter told this paper the owner was in China due to “health issues” and would be returning to Lesotho later this month.
Contacted again yesterday, Ms Julia said she would only comment when the story was published.
“The lives of patients going to such facilities are in danger, because these people are not qualified to be administering medicines most of which were expired,” Ms Mphoso said, adding that they intended to confiscate the facility’s registration certificate once the owner returned among other measures.
“For any private health facility to operate, it has to be registered with a professional council affiliated with the Ministry of Health.”
Ms Mphoso said Chinese Medical Hospital identified itself as a “traditional” health centre although they prescribed medication that should only be dispensed by trained medical practitioners
She said dispensing medication labelled in languages other than English and Sesotho contravened the Medical and Dental Pharmacy Order among other regulations.
“We want to find out how did the drugs from China reached Lesotho. “Drugs are supposed to be purchased from authorised wholesalers in the country. Those imported into the country should strictly be labelled in either Sesotho or English,” Ms Mphoso said.
“In this case, several laws have been violated namely the Dangerous Medicines Act of 1973, Public Health Order of 1970 as well as the Drugs of Abuse act of 2008.”
She also appealed to the public to be vigilant about “bogus” health centres.
“I urge them to be careful when they choose the hospitals and clinics they go to. Some of the owners of these clinics are so heartless that they only think of making money and forget about people’s lives.
“These bogus clinics create many serious health challenges that are very costly for the country and the ministry. For instance, when people take in too many antibiotics, they develop a resistance and the damage is irreversible.
“The expired drugs also have side effects. Either the patient won’t recover or develops other ailments affecting the liver and the kidneys.”
Ms Mphoso said they also discovered contraceptive pills labelled in Chinese and which are supposed to be taken once a month.
“Contraceptive pills are supposed to be taken on a daily basis and we can only wonder if the pills were actually made for the local population,” she added.