Healthcare regulators from all over the world joined international organizations to discuss fighting the spread of fake drugs and the need to secure the healthcare supply chain in Africa.
The conference, which was opened today here in the capital Addis Abeba, is organized by GS1, the global supply chain standards organization, in partnership with the Ethiopian Food, Medicine and Healthcare Administration and Control Authority (EFMHACA). The ‘Track and trace for access to safe medicines conference’ welcomes over 150 regulatory bodies and international organizations and more than 340 participants in total; it will last until 10 May 2018, according to a statement from the organizers.
“The presence of falsified medication is a huge threat to patient safety, especially in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10% of medication distributed in low and middle-income countries could be falsified,” said the statement, adding that “falsified medicines negatively impact patient safety, might lead to loss of lives, will have economic impact and will result in less trust in the healthcare system.”
About 100,000 deaths per year in Africa can be linked to counterfeit drug trade. This is because there are many inefficiencies in the African pharmaceutical supply chain such as gaps in forecasting and distribution that result in limited availability of key pharmaceuticals in hospital; long procurement lead times; inaccuracies in record-keeping; issues with the quality of forecasting data; absence of timely requisition and consumption reporting; no real-time stock status information at a national level; wastage due to expiry and damage; theft; and an inefficient recall process.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Dr. Amir Aman, Minister, Ministry of Health, said that every day millions of patients across the world depend on safe medications. “Unfortunately, the significant prevalence of falsified medications presents a huge threat to patients’ safety and livelihood, especially in Africa. Moreover, falsified medications are significant contributors to loss of lives and have a significant negative impact in particular on our health sectors and economies in general,” Dr. Amir said.
Dr. Amir said the government of Ethiopian was “committed to align with the global community’s efforts to move forward in developing harmonized traceability systems in order to build trust, improve patient safety and supply chain efficiency.”He urged participants to, among others, “develop consensus and understanding regarding the challenges we all face in stopping the circulation of counterfeit medicines in our countries, because we cannot do it alone,” and “come up with a global approach to tackle this issue,” because, he said, “the problem of counterfeiting is a global one.”
The conference is the first GS1 Healthcare conference organized in the African region. Ulrike Kreysa, Senior Vice-President Healthcare at GS1, said: “GS1 Standards and barcodes are tools that can help all supply chain partners, to ensure that patients receive effective and safe medicines,”
Yehulu Denekew, Director General at EFMHACHA, on his part said: “Ensuring the quality and safety of pharmaceuticals requires utilization of appropriate standards, most importantly the Global Standard, and that is why Ethiopia is starting to implement GS1’’