"Street medicines kill". Beyond this slogan displayed by a pharmacy in Dakar, the figures are staggering: 800,000 Africans die each year from street medicines.
800,000 deaths that could have been avoided with a political will to combat trafficking that was estimated a few years ago at US$200 billion worldwide and of which we know the main facilitators including China and India.
African governments are not insensitive to the problem of trafficking in fake medicines, as some countries such as Burkina Faso and Guinea signed the MEDICRIME Convention, which criminalizes the manufacture and distribution of fake medicines.
Unfortunately, they often lack firmness in the law enforcement and sanctions where they exist.
Under the impetus of the Brazzaville Foundation, five African states, including Congo, Ghana, Niger, Senegal and Togo, take the bull by the horns by launching a new initiative to combat the trafficking of counterfeit and poor quality medicines on the African continent.
Through this initiative, the aim is to help curb the trafficking of fake medicines, through the introduction of legislation criminalising this trafficking and criminal sanctions, with the above all ensuring that they are strictly enforced.
The Brazzaville Foundation, which is behind this initiative, is an independent non-profit organisation based in London and registered with the Charity Commission UK.
Over the past two years, it has tried to raise awareness of the serious harm caused by the rapid development of the trafficking of falsified and poor quality medicines on people’s health in African countries.
For the Foundation, "it is also clear that this trafficking is more and more used to finance terrorism and transnational crime and therefore poses a serious threat to public safety".
The Foundation said that "for the first time, it is not international organizations or non-governmental organizations that are launching an initiative to eradicate this deadly trafficking, but African heads of state themselves".
The heads of state involved in the initiative agreed to confirm their political commitment at a meeting to be held on 8 and 9 October in Lomé, Togo, where they will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and approve a detailed Action Plan, with a clearly defined timetable.
The aim of this initiative is to quickly introduce legislation to criminalise the trafficking of counterfeit and poor quality medicines and to ensure that this legislation is harmonized between the Parties in the MoU.
PANA took this opportunity to open a dossier on the issue of trafficking in fake medicines on the African continent from this Friday, 13 September.