A five days training for local pharmacists to operate the country’s first ever Minilab™ kit, that can test for quality of essential medicines has commenced this week, Monday 27th March.
Simply put, Minilab™ is a screening tool that perform a semi-quantitative assessment of the sampled medicines content. This allows to verify the integrity of medicines and determine if it is within the standard range, otherwise any levels below standard could be ineffective in treating diseases..
In 2021, WHO donated the kit to support the Ministry of Health and Medical Services efforts in strengthening the routine medicines’ quality monitoring procedures, following feedback from healthcare professionals and patients on incidents where there is a suspected lack of response to treatments prescribed. Additionally, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services had also encountered a couple of issues related to medicines or solutions colour, odour, etc. Some medicines are easy to crumble whilst others are detected for mold.
To date, sampled medicines are sent overseas for full analysis at the in Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), quality control laboratory in Australia. Consequently, if any quality issues are detected and depending on national procedures, suppliers overseas are either consulted or removed from the preferred list of suppliers and replaced.
After delivery of the kit in country the training could not eventuate due to the state of emergency from COVID-19 global pandemic that redirected priorities and efforts including restrictions to global movements that made it difficult for facilitators to travel to Solomon Islands.
Nevertheless, the training eventually kicked off this week and thanks to WHO, and the United States (US) Pharmacopoeia (USP) Ghana Scientists for making this happen.
Participants includes pharmacists from National Referral Hospital (NRH), Western and Malaita provinces and the National Medical Store.
Once operational, any essential medicines suspected for ineffectiveness brought in country by the government and private pharmacies, the semi-quantitative analysis will be performed in country, as a first screening step for quality and safety of the medicines.
Mr. Solomon Bosa, Chief Pharmacist, National Pharmacy Division, in his brief remarks at the opening said the machine and the training this week will boost ongoing work to ensure drugs used in country are providing healing to sick patients and effectively contribute to the preservation of the health of Solomon Islanders.
“This in country testing capability is indeed an important milestone as we can now perform the verification ourselves in country with our pool of pharmacists that can operate the machine and only send overseas should need be for full compendial analysis”, said Mr. Bosa.
Meanwhile, WHO), Regulatory Systems Strengthening Technical Officer, Ms. Eva Mata Martinez welcome the participants and stated her team is committed to support the pharmacist’s officers during the five days training.
“We look forward for more collaborations and discussions during this training. Hope this training will help local pharmacists in your country to improve post-market surveillance of safety and quality monitoring of medicines”, said Ms. Martinez.
The WHO team is currently in country to support the Ministry of Health and Medical Services discussing various agendas related to medicine regulation, policies, procurement and antimicrobial resistance.