|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 111
World Health Organization medical product alert N°6/2022: A clarion call for eternal vigilance
Adesoji O Ademuyiwa
Department of Surgery, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi Araba, Lagos, Nigeria
|Date of Web Publication||09-Nov-2022|
Prof. Adesoji O Ademuyiwa
Department of Surgery, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi Araba, Lagos
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Ademuyiwa AO. World Health Organization medical product alert N°6/2022: A clarion call for eternal vigilance. J Clin Sci 2022;19:111
Last month, the world woke up to the rude shock of 66 deaths linked to some sub-standard products from India. The World Health Organization (WHO) had alerted the world through Medical Product Alert No6/2022 that these products which included promethazine oral solution and some cough syrups had been linked to acute renal injury in 66 children in the Gambia which eventually led to their fatality. The syrups were tested and confirmed to have unacceptably high amounts diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol which could have led to the death of the children. The company which produced these syrups has not commented as of 6th October as reported by some news outlets.
This unfortunate chronicle of events is a wakeup call for all those involved in the drug production chain before it gets to consumers. For example, the drug company quality assurance should have detected the unacceptably high concentrations of these toxic substances in the batch and removed them from the market. If that is missed, then the regulatory body in India, before export, should have conducted its quality assurance and detected the anomaly and averted the avoidable tragedy.
Following the incident, the Gambian government expressed its lack of capacity to conduct laboratory tests that could have detected the toxic substances and so samples had to be sent abroad. The current incident has raised the need for African leaders to prioritize health in their political agenda. Although Gambia is a small country with limited resources, it is not out of place for the country to have, if only one, a standard laboratory where such services can be offered. As we know, the need for such high-quality services will always arise. Furthermore, even if Gambia cannot single-handedly fund such a laboratory, the West African Health Organization should have regional laboratories where such samples can be tested within the region. Such capacity building is a sine qua non for growth.
Finally, the WHO warned that although the drugs are only found in Gambia at the moment, it could have gotten to other countries through the informal distribution network. This warning is the greatest risk to the West African subregion and call for tighter control of pharmaceutical trade across the borders. It is no news that the borders are porous to substandard drugs, contraband food items, etc., The WHO warning should be a clarion call to governments in West Africa to use the opportunity to tighten the processes of transborder trade in pharmaceutical products.
It is hoped that if some of these steps are taken in good faith, events such as that witnessed in the Gambia will be a thing of the past.
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