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

Photogallery US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid