The menace of counterfeit medicines in Africa must urgently and decisively be tackled to prevent the multiple deaths that occur every year. According to a report by Reuters, tens of thousands die every year in Africa due to counterfeit drugs.
Approximately half of the fake drugs reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2013 and 2017 emanated from Sub-Saharan Africa. The report supports studies by Interpol and the Institute for Security Studies as well.
The same report emphasized how fake anti-malarial drugs are causing the death of about 158 000 people every year in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, the World Health Organization data suggests that the counterfeit drug is costing $200 billion worldwide.
According to the Nigerian Government, In 2009, teething syrup that was tainted with a chemical killed 80 children. It means that the fake drug business is one of the most lucrative illegal trade with a highly devastating impact.
Aside from the threat to life, counterfeit drugs in Africa also hinders the booming pharmaceutical industry on the continent. When you consider these alarming impacts of counterfeits drugs in Africa, you agree that Africa needs to tackle the menace.
Blockchain technology has great potential and the ability to tackle counterfeit drugs in Africa. One of the ways Blockchain will be a game-changer in improving traceability and supply chain in the various pharma industries. However, let’s consider the use case of Blockchain in Uganda to tackle counterfeit drugs.
How Uganda Is Using Blockchain To Tackle Counterfeit Drugs
The government of Uganda signed a partnership agreement with a Blockchain startup called MediConnect in July. The sole purpose is to trace counterfeit drugs in the East African country.
MediConnect has developed a solution to track and manage the drug supply chain using Blockchain technology. According to the Ugandan National Drug Authority (NDA), at least 10 per cent of the drugs prescribed in the country have counterfeit copies in circulation.
In an official statement, the CEO of MediConnect, Dexter Blackstock, said MediConnect would become part of the national infrastructure of Uganda to protect its citizens from fake drugs. The MediConnect Blockchain solution will not only identify counterfeit drugs but will establish their provenance.
This approach has the potential to prevent future contamination of drug batches in Uganda. To confirm the meeting with the MediConnect team, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda posted on his Twitter page about his government’s support to MediConnect.
The MediConnect platform will serve as an immutable ledger that tracks the distribution of prescription drugs in Uganda. Medical doctors and pharmacists will be able to identify counterfeit and fake medicines, thereby removing them from the supply chain.
Other African countries need to borrow a lead from Uganda so that the continent can defeat counterfeit drugs. Although the project has not kicked off proper in Uganda, you certainly agree that it is the right step in the right direction.
At a time like this, when counterfeit drugs in Africa is on the rise, Blockchain technology seems the best option to nip the menace in the bud.
*Photo Credit: Pharmaceutical Commerce