Republican President Edgar Lungu has expressed concern at the growing trend of use of less effective, substandard and counterfeit procucts on the African Continent stating that such products waste resources and cost countless lives.
The President stated that such drugs contribute to the rising problem of antimicrobial resistance which also stands as a complex global health threat , and is poised to have even more catastrophic consequences on the health of the people.
The President said this at the high level meeting on “The fight for quality medicines in Africa – stopping falsified, substandard medicines,” on the sides lines of the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday, in a speech read on his behalf by Zambia’s Health Minister, Dr Chitalu Chilufya.
The President stated that the meeting had come at the right time when the World had united to put universal health coverage at the top of its agenda.
He stated however that universal health coverage would only be attained if access to affordable, quality, safe and effective medical products was realised.
President Lungu observed that substandard and falsified medical products where most likely to be found where access to affordable, quality, safe and effective medical products was constrained and where standards of governance where low owing to poor ethical practices in health care facilities and medicine outlets, due to corruption in both the public and private sectors and lastly where tools and technical capacity to ensure good practices in manufacturing, quality control and distribution, where limited.
“The risk posed by substandard and falsified medical products is very real in the African region, which is currently leading in reporting to the World Health Organisations rapid alert system,” he said.
The President stated that the onus was therefore on them to provide the requisite leadership to win the fight. He stated that Political will was a game changer in identifying and mitigating the issues that made the countries especially on the African continent susceptible to undesirable medical products .
He stated that Zambia had welcomed the establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), and encouraged that combined efforts with the world health organization would go a long way in helping to address the problem of fake drugs.
And UN AIDS Executive Director, Michelle Sidebe said there was need to criminalise the manufacturing of substandard and falsified medicines because the vice had contributed to drug resistance in TB and Malaria.
He stated that the vice had a negative impact on the attainment of universal health coverage, sentiments which where echoed by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization Director who expressed gratitude to President Edgar Lungu for Chairing the meeting.