KARACHI: Pakistan is one of those countries in the world where medicines are being transported without cold chain management and the government, especially the Sindh government, does not to do anything, a doctor working with Pakistan Medical Association told Geo News.
“The prime responsibility to ensure cold chain management rests with drug manufacturers, after that retailers are responsible of maintaining the temperature of a drug,” said Dr Qaiser Sajjad, member of the PMA.
Dr Asif Zaman, Medical Superintendent at Government Children Hospital Nazimabad, explained that the required temperature of a drug which includes vaccines, antibiotics, injections and ointments are from 2°C to 8°C.
Dr Sajjad said unfortunately salespersons at medical stores do not know about the cold chain management and they don’t even have backup support in case of a power outage.
While surveying, Geo News also came across the fact that nearly 80 per cent of drug retailers were unaware of cold chain management.
Dr Mohammad Taufeeq, Director Health Karachi, said their drug inspectors regularly check and conduct raids on the medical stores. He, however, admitted lack of arrangements to maintain temperature of drugs in the metropolis.
According to Director Health Karachi’s office, only two drug inspectors have been working in the field for over 20 million strong population of the city.
Dr Sikander Ali Mandhro, provincial minister for Health, said that we are aware of the issue, but for vaccination our Extended Program for Immunisation (EPI) has World Health Organisation-recommended cold chain management system, which is working in the entire province.
“As far as shortage of drug inspectors is concerned, we are soon to advertise vacancies for drug inspectors,” Mandhro added.
It has been learnt that medicines, whose temperature is not maintained, eventually have their efficacy affected. Retailers should avoid drugs’ exposure to sunlight and store them in fridge, whereas ointments for ears, eyes and nose should not be used more than 30 days after the first opening.
The PMA has urged the central and provincial governments and concerned departments to maintain cold chain management and regulate a monitoring system for drug stores, and to put heavy penalty and/or fine in in case of a violation.