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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs