Let me just at the outset define this term “PharmacoVigilance”, abbreviated as “ PV”, it may sound like a strange scientific term, but it can be deciphered. Thus according to WHO PharmacoVigilance is defined as the science and activities relating to detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse drug effect/Reactions (ADR) or any other related drug problem.
I was inspired to write about this subject after my involvement in preparing seminar presentation under the auspices of Dr Sasi, one of the well versed Phamacologist at Muhimbili University of Health (MUHAS), where I was able to tumble to a number of issues which in my view they deserve public attention as recounted hereunder.
Background of PV in Tanzania
So you must know this ,PV activities began in Tanzania way back in 1989, TFDA (Tanzania Food and Drug Authority) adopted the WHO program for International drug monitoring in 1993, moreover Tanzania made PV a core role of TFDA and its establishment after enacting laws vis a vis to PV (TFDA Act 2003).
Furthermore WHO established a program for international drug monitoring, in response to that so far there are more than 150 PV centers globally for recording and reporting ADR, TFDA shares information with other PV centers through a WHO database “Vigiflow” , It is reported that in Tanzania there are PV centers in Dar es salaam at Muhimbili National Hospital, in Mwanza at Bugando Medical Centre, in Moshi at KCMC Hospital, and in Mbeya at Mbeya Zonal Refferal Hospital.
How do we implement it in Tanzania?
Our communities cannot be safe if we don’t monitor the safety of the medicines we give, the Tanzanian populace and the world at large must enjoy the Doctors’ tutelage on PV.
The sole aim of PV is to advance patient care cum Safety through at least our rarefied areas of our scientific knowledge on the subject matter.
Therefore it’s important to include the community in this role, in PV patients have a monumental role to see to, that is to report any adverse drug reaction or any adverse drug effects to the Health care providers who have a bounden voluntary professional duty to detect and report by filling in special forms termed as “Yellow form”.
However of late a special online smartphone application has been developed whereby a patient or ahealthcare professional can use it in Tanzania, the app is “Android apps on google play- TFDA ADR reporting tool”, whereby you will find steps and the way to fill in the forms proceeded by words like “Hakiki dawa”.
So in principle Tanzania is said to use these methods in PV issue; Passive reporting through the yellow card Swahili and English version, through special patient reporting form- Swahili version, Patient alert cards, and doing active Surveillance plus the recent development of embarking on an android app as reported above, Have you ever ran across any of those forms?, Haveyou ever experienced any ADR ? Have you ever filled one of the said forms? Have you ever thought of installing the “TFDA ADR reporting Google play” android app in your smart phone ?.
Any Augury of Hope in Tanzania thus far?
Practically, a lot have been done by TFDA to ward Tanzanians off the wanton unintended outcome of the medicines we take such as recommending restrictions and at times issuing directives on the use of some of the medications includingWithdrawing drugs use and distributions following some MOH/TFDA-led surveillance endavours .
From my personal observation, in Tanzania NHIF has also contributed to a great deal of PV in Tanzania through its guidelines on prescriptions in which some of the restrictions are part of the PV prevention of ADR however at times it has faced a deluge of complaints from Health care Tanzanian professionals with regard to its role. But we have not done enough on sensitizing the community (Patients and Health professionals) on reporting of ADR possibly this has brought forth this sorry status of affairs -ADR underreporting in Tanzania .
So in a nutshell, in Tanzania we medical professionals and TFDA have a faith in PV, ours is a living faith if you like revolutionary faith, but faith without ostensible actions is sterile, are we waitingfor the worm to turn ?
Thus, I would say PharmacoVigilance is a relevant subject to all and sundry, whose Life is touched in manifold ways- big and small by medical treatment in the course of seeking a second chance to live.