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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

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 .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid