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Health professionals declare war on counterfeit medicines

…As Nigeria, 11 others sign ‘Abuja Call to Action’

By Sola Ogundipe
NIGERIAN medical health professionals and their counterparts from 11 other African countries have called on their governments to immediately implement and enforce relevant legislations and regulations that will prevent, control and reduce the incidence of counterfeit medicines.

The professionals who met in Abuja during  the first-ever African multi-professional workshop on counterfeit medical products in Africa,  said it has become expedient to inform and raise the awareness of patients on the continent about the risks of counterfeit medical products while encouraging them to take action to fight the problem.

The call which came through the endorsement the World Health Professions Association, WHPA, declaration tagged “Abuja Call to Action on Counterfeit Medical Products declaration”, was endorsed by 30 national health professions organisations including dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and physical therapy as well as four patient organisations.

Recognising that counterfeit medical products are, above all, a public health problem and a threat to patient safety with grave consequences in terms of increased disease burden, mortality and costs for healthcare systems, the participants noted that “patients have the power to decide where to buy and how to use medical products, but they are also the most fragile link in the chain and the main victim of counterfeit medical products.”

The first-ever African multi-professional workshop on counterfeit medical products in Africa, organised by the WHPA, held in Abuja last week.From left is Dr. Baamlong, Chairman Nigeria Medical Association, Abuja Branch with Prof. Dora Akunyili Minister for Information and Communication and President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Pharm Azubike Okwor, during the event.

Held under the entitled “Be Aware, Take Action” campaign against counterfeit medical products, the  WHPA workshop aimed to tackle the serious challenge of counterfeit medical products worldwide. Co-hosted by the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and the FIP African Pharmaceutical Forum, the workshop brought together 92 participants from Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria.

In attendance were patient advocates from the Liberian United Youth for Community Safety and Development, Association of Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Women and Children Alive, Community Health and Information Network.

The workshop targeted joint strategies amongst the five health professions to identify, report and purge counterfeit medical products from the supply chain, and to empower patients to make the best decisions when it comes to acquiring, carefully checking and using medical products.

Keynote speaker, Mr Hashim Yusufu, Director of the Nigeria Federal Taskforce for combating counterfeit medicines and Chairman of the Africa regional task force on the prevention and control of counterfeit medical products, was adamant that the fight against counterfeit medicines can only be won with close collaboration among health professionals, civil society, regulators, police, customs and manufacturers. He also gave an update of the recent anti-counterfeiting initiatives taken in Africa and globally.

In Nigeria, NAFDAC is pushing for more deterrent legislations to be enforced against counterfeiters.

Spokesperson WHPA, Prof. Kofo Savage, stressed: “As concerned physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physical therapists and patient representatives, we are speaking out – we are very worried about dangers  counterfeit and falsified medical products pose to patient safety.


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