A PHARMACIST has called on the government to empower the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (PRA) in order for them to monitor the quality of medicines supplied in health institutions.

Presenting a paper at the Stop Stockout Campaign Anti-counterfeit seminar in Lusaka on Tuesday, Christopher Sakala warned that counterfeit medicines could pose a lot of danger to human health.

Sakala, who is also part of the Stop Stockout Campaign team, bemoaned the tendency by some health centres to supply patients with counterfeit drugs.

"The Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority needs to be equipped properly. It is a professional body that works very hard to check on the quality of medicines the Zambian patients consume. This a body that is serious with issues of public health, but they work under difficult conditions," Sakala said. "The PRA does not have enough human resource. This has resulted in them only having their presence at two entry points: the Lusaka International Airport and Chirundu border post. The number of inspectors is also limited because currently there are only five for the whole country. These are some of the challenges that the government should pay attention to."

Sakala warned that consumption of low quality medicines could result in treatment failures.

He further said the public could lose confidence in the health delivery system if counterfeit medicines flooded the market.

Sakala encouraged all established health institutions to employ qualified pharmacists, saying they were the only ones who could distinguish between genuine and counterfeit medicines.