Improving veterinary drugs’ sales

Veterinary Hospital
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Regulating veterinary drugs sale.

Regulating veterinary drugs sale

By Tahir Ali

Dawn, Monday, 7-02-11

THE responsibility entrusted to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department to authorise, monitor, control and check the sales of veterinary drugs and services in the market is creating problems in ensuring quality drugs and managing livestock healthcare.

The livestock and dairy development department is well equipped, trained and capable of performing such duties better than the health sector, says an expert.

The provincial Director General (DG) Livestock and Dairy Development, Dr Sher Muhammad, confirmed that there was no separate animal drugs registration and regulation authority and that the sector was being supervised by the health department officials at both federal and provincial levels.

“We intend to legislate and request the government to hand over the responsibility of checking and monitoring veterinary drugs and services to the livestock department. Devolution of departments to the provinces is under way. When this process completes, we will come to know which components of the department are assigned to the provinces. Then we will seek government support to prepare and get a legislature passed by the provincial assembly.

“The health official may be a competent person vis-à-vis human drugs but only a veterinary expert can know well as to whether a particular animal-specific drug, equipment and service are standard and permissible or otherwise,” argues Dr Ghulam Muhammad, a former livestock department officer and veterinary expert.

“A separate veterinary drug inspectorate under the livestock department is, therefore, urgently needed and the government should legislate for the purpose. The posts of veterinary assistants could be upgraded and they could be authorised to ensure availability of quality animal drugs and services to farmers,” he stresses.

According to Muhammad Arshad, president of All Pakistan Veterinary Medical Council, the health department registers, monitors and checks veterinary cases and issues licenses to animal druggists which is not right.

“These responsibilities should be handed over to the livestock or food and agriculture department. Everyone does his own business best. There are highly qualified specialists with the department who know the anatomy of drugs and the nature and requirements of veterinary ailments and they can ensure effective monitoring and checking of the sector,” he added.

There is a need to shift the onus of legislation and regulation of the sector to its parent and concerned livestock department.

But unfortunately, the health department has taken advantage of its clout and outreach to first take and later maintain the sector under its ambit,” he added.

According to him, there are over 100 lawful veterinary manufacturers and about 200 veterinary drug importers in the country. And the illegal ones are in thousands and are manufacturing and supplying animal drugs under the garb of herbal drugs throughout the country. There are laws to stop the practices but as their implementation has been left to officials from an irrelevant (health) department, how can the situation be improved,” Arshad argued.

“Unfortunately, the manufacturing and selling of substandard veterinary drugs and unauthorised services to farmers continue openly and the health department has failed to stem the process,” said Haji Naimat Shah, a farmer leader from Mardan.

“There is the problem of weak coordination between the two livestock and health departments and communication between the two that causes delay in decision-making and actions against the culprits, selling fake veterinary drugs and working as animal quakes unlawfully. Conversely, the livestock department would be taking action quickly benefiting the farmers,” he added.

The health department cannot carry out its responsibility efficiently for being engaged also in human drugs and for lack of expertise.

To add to farmers` woes, there are countless livestock quakes providing unauthorised diagnosis, therapy and prescription services to farmers with the result that livestock suffer from low productivity of milk and meat and ailments for wrong prescription,(overdose and low doze) he argued.

The veterinary medicines are supporting a vital segment of the economy even though these cover just about 10 per cent of the total livestock industry potential in the country. With a very large livestock population and progressing poultry industry, the demand for veterinary medicines is very much there. In fact the total veterinary drugs sales in the country exceed billions of rupees per year.

The livestock and dairy sector accounts for 53 per cent of agriculture, 11 per cent of GDP, around nine per cent of exports, and feeds around 50 to 60 million people in rural areas. It counts for 51 per cent of provincial gross domestic product.


About Tahir Ali Khan (Official)
I am an academic, columnist, and a social worker.

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