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Home > News > Merck, the Geneva Diplomatic Circle and the Brazzaville Foundation bring together actors in the fight against fake medicines

Published May 16, 2023 / Public health

Merck, the Geneva Diplomatic Circle and the Brazzaville Foundation bring together actors in the fight against fake medicines


Geneva, 16 May 2023 - In the run-up to the 76th World Health Assembly, a high-level dinner-debate in Geneva brought together a wide range of public health players. Co-organised by the Cercle Diplomatique de Genève, Merck Laboratories laboratories, the Brazzaville Foundation, the Africa Health Business (AHB) and Fight the Fakes Alliance. This dinner-debate brought together professionals from the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries to find solutions to the problem of substandard and falsified medical products (SFMP), which are on the increase, hindering the availability of safe, quality medical products and threatening patient safety.

From left to right: Mr. Greg Perry, Chief Executive IFPMA Deputy Director; Mr. Richard Amalvy, Chief Executive Brazzaville Foundation and Dr. Yukiko Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General, Merck.

Universal health coverage and lessons learned from Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated once again that universal health and health security (HSS) are inextricably linked, in times of peace as in times of crisis. Women, children, adolescents and the most vulnerable have priority when it comes to ensuring equitable health coverage, as they face the greatest obstacles to receiving the care they need. One of the main obstacles to achieving universal health coverage by 2030 is the crucial problem of substandard or falsified healthcare products and technologies, particularly medicines. Although this is a global problem, people living in low- and middle-income contexts, particularly in African countries, are the main victims of these products.


The development of a healthy, productive population presupposes that everyone has access to healthcare, i.e. to safe, quality health products, technologies and medicines. WHO's Director-General, Dr Tedros, said: "It's not just the provision of services that counts. The quality of these services is also vital and important. There is no universal public health without quality."


The concept of universal health coverage (UHC), which states that everyone, everywhere should have access to affordable, quality healthcare, was accepted by the UN General Assembly on 12 December 2012. The 2023 UN General Assembly will be dedicated to UHC in particular, and there is a need to better understand the opportunities and challenges to achieving it, including the importance of quality healthcare products and technologies.


Organised in the week leading up to the World Health Assembly, the dinner-debate explored the challenges, opportunities and possible avenues for combating the scourge of substandard and falsified healthcare products and technologies, which are undermining the global aspiration to universal public health.

Strategic alliance strengthens

Over dinner, the speakers shared a single key message: "Without confidence in quality, universal public health will not be achieved."


Prestigious speakers included Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Merck Group Board of Directors, Dr. Yukiko Nakatani, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, H.E. Mrs Marie Chantal Rwakazina, Ambassador of Rwanda in Geneva, Dr Michel Sidibé, Special Envoy of the African Union for the creation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), and Prof. Dêlidji Eric Degila, specialist in International Relations in Geneva.


The Director of Pharmacy of the Republic of Guinea, Dr. Oumar Diouhé Bah, then presented the results of the commitment of the transitional authorities in Guinea to clean up the pharmaceutical sector, notably through the firm application of legal texts and the seizure and destruction of SFMP.


A round table discussion moderated by Mr. Greg Perry, Chief Executive IFPMA, featured a series of panellists including Dr. Michel Sidibé; Mr. Rutendo Kuwana, Team Leader, Incidents and substandard/falsified medical products at WHO; Dr. Oksana Pyzik, Global Engagement Manager and Senior Lecturer at the UCL School of Pharmacy; Mr. Oscar Alarcón-Jimnez, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe's MEDICRIME Convention; Mr. Richard Amalvy, Vice President of the European Commission's Oscar Alarcón-Jiménez, Executive Secretary of the MEDICRIME Convention of the Council of Europe; Mr. Richard Amalvy, Chief Executive of Brazzaville Foundation ; Ms. Géraldine Lissalde-Bonnet, Vice-President of GS1 Healthcare; and Dr. Karim Bendhaou, Chairman of the Africa Board of Merck Pharmaceuticals. The participants made a special mention of Robert Blum, President and founder of the Cercle diplomatique de Genève, for the smooth running of the event.

Photo of panelists at the round table mentioned above, © Brazzaville Foundation.

The Fight the Fakes Alliance took advantage of the evening to launch a call to action to make quality medicines a key element of universal health coverage (UHC).