News / Africa

    African Experts Discuss Need for Better Regulation of Medicine

    FILE - A Belgian customs officer shows tablets of counterfeit drugs at Brussels' Airport on October 3, 2008. The fake medicine was seized en route from India to Togo.
    FILE - A Belgian customs officer shows tablets of counterfeit drugs at Brussels' Airport on October 3, 2008. The fake medicine was seized en route from India to Togo.
    Anita Powell
    In most African countries, pharmaceutal drugs are poorly regulated or not regulated at all, posing huge risks for those who depend on them to stay healthy.   But for the first time, the topic has gotten the attention of African officials, who holding a scientific conference on the topic in South Africa. 
     
    Access to safe and effective medicine can be touch and go in Africa, where the market abounds with drugs that are fake or expired.

    That can have disastrous consequences, says Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda, a Tanzanian who oversees pharmaceutical issues for an African Union agency, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, or NEPAD.

    "The situation that you see in Africa is that most of the medicines circulating in our market, more than 30 percent, either does not meet the standards, meaning that it cannot treat the disease that it is intended to, or it is falsified, meaning that it is not a real medicine," Ndomondo-Sigonda said. "Could be that it does not have the necessary active ingredients, and therefore it may not treat or it may even cause harm to the patient instead of actually treating the disease that is intended."

    She is one of hundreds of experts who gathered in Johannesburg this week for the first-ever scientific conference bringing together pharmacists, health workers, governments and civic organizations to discuss how to better regulate the drugs that make it to health facilities across Africa.

    Ndomondo-Sigonda says that most African nations lack the capacity to effectively police medicines.  Nations are considering tightening and refining their testing protocols and collaborating on testing, among other interventions.

    Experts also noted the role that law enforcement authorities can play in cracking down on fake drugs. While this is sure to be a long and costly process, NEPAD's head science advisor Aggrey Ambali says these measures may end up making drugs cheaper for consumers.  

    If countries cooperate to test drugs, he says, they can save money.  And if local drug producers are made aware of the new guidelines, they can compete more effectively. 

    "Without actually having the actual numbers, but the pointers are there that if this were to succeed, I think there are opportunities of trying to find ways of cutting costs which can actually be reflected in the final price of the medicine," said Ambali.

    Ndomondo-Sigonda says consumers can protect themselves now by being selective about where they buy their drugs and sticking to trustworthy health facilities.
       
    "The minute they go and buy medicines in the open markets, that is where the problem starts, because the products in the open markets, they are not assured because you do not know where they source them from and you have a huge potential for buying counterfeit medicines in such markets," she said.

    That fact was illustrated in 2011, when the World Health Organization reported that in Nigeria, the continent's largest pharmaceutical market, nearly two-thirds of drugs used to fight malaria were fake.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Salim mohamedin ahmed from: Kapoeta
    December 04, 2013 7:02 AM
    Oh really all the drugs are faKe but how we can fighting this faKe drugs ?
    I thinK by improving the awareness of our communities to know the disadvantiages of useing this faKe drugs , stopped all typies of courrption on the broader of our homes , puttinng strong sentence for the one who buying sealing faKe drugs .

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora