LOME – President Museveni has called for concerted efforts among African countries towards elimination of trafficking of substandard, falsified medicines and other medical products.
In a speech delivered in Lome, Togo at the signing of the Political Declaration of the Lome Initiative against drug trafficking at the weekend, Mr Museveni said counterfeit medical products pose a considerable threat to human health and well-being worldwide.
“They may cause harm to patients and fail to treat the diseases for which they were intended. They may lead to loss of confidence in medicines, healthcare providers and health systems. Substandard and falsified medical products contribute to antimicrobial resistance and drug-resistant infections,” the President said.
In addition to the human cost of counterfeit medicines, Mr Museveni said many countries have realized that there has been the involvement of transnational organized crime in this traffic and financing of terrorist activities.
“Counterfeit medicines are smuggled onto the market using the same routes and techniques as drugs, weapons and human trafficking. Therefore, this problem cannot be solved by individual countries,” he said.
Mr Museveni said formulation of stringent regulatory mechanism, information sharing and working together to combat the vice, which has been identified as one of the ways of tackling drug trafficking, “must be supported and implemented by all of us.”
“The decisive call, goes to all leaders on the Continent to work together and form a system that is managed and regulated by ourselves. Additionally, we must invest in research and development of health-related technologies and promote innovation of new products, where possible. Scientists on the Continent must also collaborate on common health concerns, share expertise and be financially supported to build capacity for production of quality and standard medicines rather than, completely, depending on sourcing externally. 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,” the President added.
The Lome Initiative will comprise of Uganda, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Togo, the Republic of the Congo and the Brazzaville Foundation.
It aims at stemming the traffic in counterfeit medicines by introducing legislation to criminalize this traffic, impose tougher criminal penalties and ensure vigorous enforcement of the legislation.
“I call upon all African countries to join in the Initiative as we continue to push for shared socio-economic integration and transformation,” Mr Museveni added.