PUBLIC health specialist Dr Canisius Banda says the recalling of defective products supplied by Honeybee Pharmacy Limited involving so many products all at once is unprecedented in the health and pharmaceutical history of Zambia.

But Dr Banda has commended President Edgar Lungu for quickly intervening and acting in defence of citizens on the controversial drug rollout by making the necessary changes at the Ministry of Health.

On January 28, 2021, Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) wrote to Honeybee Pharmacy directing them to recall 19 more products from the market, including pregnancy test kits and vaginal inserts.

Responding to a press query, Dr Banda, who is a former Ministry of Health spokesperson, said a careful and thorough forensic audit on this matter needed to be undertaken in both national and public interest.

“Recalls of products are not uncommon both in Zambia and the world over. Recalls are often occasioned by a discovery of a flaw in a given product, observed over time commonly by the consumer, standards’ agencies or the producer, which flaw subtracts from or negates the intended purpose and quality of the product. In addition, recalls are made, inspired by public safety and good business practice, to immediately stop further injury or insult that the product may cause the consumer. Oftentimes, products aren’t what that producers say that they are counterfeits abound,” Dr Banda stated.

“This is why, in the health sector, where lives can either be maimed or terminated by such products, the pharmacovigilance and protective role of policing and standards’ agencies such as ZABS (Zambia Bureau of Standards) is priceless, crucial and indispensable. It is also not uncommon in informed societies, that whenever a recall has occurred, the injured party litigates seeking not only compensation, but also as a preventive measure for future events of a similar nature, to legally ensure and insist that companies must always comply with the principles of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). A recall of products supplied by Honeybee to the degree it has occurred, involving so many products all at once, is unprecedented in the health and pharmaceutical history of Zambia as a nation. It is for this reason that a careful and thorough forensic audit/inquiry on this matter needs to be undertaken in both the national and public interest.”

He, however, commended President Lungu for showing exemplary leadership on resolving the controversial incident.

Dr Banda further congratulated News Diggers! Media Limited for their institutional vigilance on uncovering the scandal.

“That Republican President His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu quickly intervened and acted in defence of citizens on this matter through both word and deed is a show of both commendable and exemplary leadership on his part. The institutional vigilance of News Diggers! as a required fixture of human liberties in particular and life in general also deserves special commendation,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Dr Banda stated that it was a shame that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country seemed to focus their activism on politics.

“Further, it is a shame that CSOs in Zambia seem to have a parochial scope of work, seem to focus their activism only on politics when their work reach should encompass all areas that are monomers or building blocks of community unity, peace, wellbeing and prosperity,” stated Dr Banda.