News Room What's New What's new - Archives Abuja Call to Action: Fight the dangers of counterfeit medicines

Abuja Call to Action: Fight the dangers of counterfeit medicines

In a first for the African continent, 30 national health professions organisations (dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and physical therapy) and four patient organisations have discussed and endorsed the WHPA Abuja Call to Action on Counterfeit Medical Products when they met at the first-ever multi-professional workshop on counterfeit medical products in Africa, held 22-23 November, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Under the banner of the "Be Aware, Take Action" campaign against counterfeit medical products, this World Health Professions Association (WHPA) workshop aimed to tackle the serious challenge of counterfeit medical products worldwide. Co-hosted with WHPA 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, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. In attendance were also 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 (NAFDAC) 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. In Nigeria, NAFDAC is pushing for more deterrent legislations to be enforced against counterfeiters. The workshop recognised 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. This important event also sent a strong message urging all governments to implement and enforce relevant legislations and regulations that will prevent, control and reduce the incidence of counterfeit medicines.

Prof. Kofo Savage, speaking on behalf of the World Health Professions Alliance, stated, "As concerned physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physical therapists and patient representatives, we are speaking out – because we are very worried about the dangers that counterfeit and falsified medical products pose to patient safety. Now is the time to act."

There was agreement on the need to raise awareness about this issue amongst health care professionals and the public in general, through campaigns and training initiatives. Likewise, participants agreed on the need for strong and clear laws and institutions that prevent, pursue and punish such crimes – laws that are written in collaboration with health care professionals' organisations and are based on their technical input.

In closing, the Honourable Minister, Prof Dora Akunyili, emphasized that, "As leaders representing nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, dentists and physicians, we must commit to accelerate our response to this problem by establishing inter professional collaboration so that health professionals and patient support groups can begin to tap from each other's core competencies in fighting this public health threat, among other key actions. This will be a long fight and I am with you all the way."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 09:43