Half of substandard medicines are in sub-Saharan Africa – WHO

NEARLY half of substandard or falsified medicines are in circulation in Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organisation has revealed. And WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says these substandard and falsified medicines particularly affect the most vulnerable communities.

According to a new research by the WHO, an estimated 1 in 10 medical products circulating in low- and middle-income countries is either substandard or falsified.

“Since 2013, WHO has received 1,500 reports of cases of substandard or falsified products. Of these, anti-malarials and antibiotics are the most commonly reported. Most of the reports (42 per cent) come from sub-Saharan Africa, 21 per cent from the Americas and 21 per cent from the European region,” the WHO report stated.

The WHO added that people were taking medicines that fail to treat or prevent disease.

“Not only is this a waste of money for individuals and health systems that purchase these products but substandard or falsified medical products can cause serious illness or even death,” Dr Ghebreyesus said.

Dr Mariângela Simão, who is the assistant director-general for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals at WHO, said many products, like antibiotics, were vital for people’s survival and wellbeing.

“Substandard or falsified medicines not only have a tragic impact on individual patients and their families but also are a threat to anti-microbial resistance, adding to the worrying trend of medicines losing their power to treat,” Dr Simão said.

She added that the bottom line was that this is a global problem.

“Countries need to assess the extent of the problem at home and cooperate regionally and globally to prevent the traffic of these products and improve detection and response,” said Dr Simão.

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