Since 2017, the Brazzaville Foundation has been involved in the fight against the traffic in substandard and falsified (SF) medicines.
This is a global problem but it is particularly acute in Africa where in some countries up to 60% of medicines in circulation are believed to be substandard or falsified. Each year they are estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of African lives, including 120,000 children under the age of five who die as a result of fake anti-malarials.
In addition to the human cost, the involvement of transnational organised crime in this lucrative traffic, and evidence that this in turn is financing terrorism, is creating a serious threat to public security in some parts of Africa. SF medicines are smuggled on to the market using the same routes and techniques as drug, weapon and human trafficking.
One of the main reasons for the proliferation of this traffic in Africa is the absence in many countries of proper criminal legislation and effective enforcement. In response to this situation, the Brazzaville Foundation has developed a practical, Africa-focused initiative.
The Lomé Initiative has already been taken up by a number of African Heads of State who are personally committed to confronting this scourge. They have agreed to introduce new legislation specifically targeted at criminalising the traffic in falsified medicines, to impose severe penalties and to ensure effective enforcement as a first, vital step in a broader programme to provide safe and effective medicines for all.
This initiative was launched at a special summit in Lomé on 17-18 January at the invitation of the President of Togo. The Presidents of Senegal, Togo and Uganda, and the Presidents of the Republic of the Congo and Niger represented by their Ministers of Health, signed the Lomé Declaration setting out their obligations under this initiative and requesting the Foundation to continue to play a role in supporting it. Ghana was also represented at the Lomé summit. We are grateful for their support and we hope that they and a number of other African countries will soon join this initiative.
ON EXISTING EFFORTS
BY THE INTERNATIONAL
In developing this Initiative, the Foundation recognises the work already undertaken by the international community to tackle the problem of substandard and falsified medicines and the importance of avoiding duplication. The initiative therefore provides for signature and ratification of the Council of Europe’s Medicrime Convention and will draw on the model legislation drawn up by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime.