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Uganda committed to fighting against trafficking substandard medicines -Museveni

President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  President Yoweri Museveni has said Uganda is committed in the collective efforts to fight trafficking of substandard medical products.

Museveni made the commitment on Saturday at the on-going LOME Initiative in Togo where African leaders from the Republic of the Congo, Niger, Senegal, Togo and Uganda are meeting to sign the Lomé Initiative, a binding agreement to criminalize the trafficking of falsified medicines.

“I am pleased to be here to confirm Uganda’s commitment to the collaborative process on the elimination of the global health challenge of trafficking of substandard, falsified medicines and other medical products,” said Museveni in part of his statement

The initiative spearheaded by Brazzaville Foundation, an independent, not for profit organisation proposes initiatives to promote sustainable development, conflict prevention and facilitate peaceful cooperation on the African continent.

Museveni says challenges including the trafficking of counterfeit, substandard and falsified medicines and health products has affected development and called upon every country to join in the fight.

“This is a crime against humanity and a huge risk for countries all over the world.  Every country must work individually and collectively to eliminate it as soon as possible” said Museveni

World Health Organisation-WHO estimates indicate that around 116,000 deaths in Sub Saharan Africa occur due to consumption of substandard drugs. Emergency contraceptive pills and antimalarial drugs are among the most common type of substandard medicines

It is also estimated that 128 countries worldwide are affected by falsified medicines and 42% of all falsified medicines discovered since 2013 were in Africa. WHO also estimates that falsified medicines account for 20-30% of all medical products in low- and middle-income African countries.

In June 2019, the National Drug Authority revealed that 10 per cent of the drug regimens in the country have substandard or counterfeit copies of them sold on the market. These according to the Authority are brought into the country by smugglers mostly from Kenya and DR Congo through porous borders.

Jean-Yves Ollivier, President of the Brazzaville Foundation says the proliferation of fake medicines is a public health crisis that shouldn’t be ignored.

“People all over the world are dying every day because this scourge has not been given the priority it deserves. The traffic in falsified medicines also generates huge profits for criminals and terrorists, destabilising some of the most fragile countries,” he adds in a statement

President Museveni suggests that to cub the vice leaders need to formulate strict laws, share information and work together. He also called for investment in research and development of health-related technologies and promote innovation of new products, where possible.  He called for support to scientists to build capacity for production of quality and standard medicines.

“In so doing, we will safeguard the population, create jobs for the youth and improve our economies and also lower the cost of the medicines because African labour is cheaper,” he said

At the Summit the countries will sign a Political Declaration and a legally binding Framework Agreement. This agreement will commit them to introduce legislation which criminalises the trafficking of fake medicines.

According to Brazzaville Foundation, this is the first phase of a wider programme to ensure access to safe and effective medicines for citizens in these countries.

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