Abdou Diouf : Solidarity, safety and regulations
On Ideas For Development Blog, Abdou Diouf and the Fondation Chirac speak about the recent implementation of a European directive threatens the collection of unused médicine.
The Fondation Chirac’s answer:
Donating medication directly must certainly not sway us from our principal objective: the autonomy each country must acquire in terms of health safety. Nevertheless, to answer Joyce (see the blog), drug donations do not make Africa a dump for Europe. Giving a product that is still useful and that could save lives has nothing to do with getting rid of a used product.
In fact, one must keep in mind that there are several periods for each action and obviously, different types of action. When confronted with crisis situations and emergencies, drug donations are vital. First of all, they save lives at critical periods. Then, as Abdou Diouf has stated, they concretize international solidarity.
The end of this system – with the application of the European guideline for the end of humanitarian use of unused drugs – provides the opportunity to create new supply networks for developing countries. Once again, innovation and imagination must come into play. Leem, the French Pharmaceutical Companies Association, has already announced its determination to contribute to humanitarian efforts and intends to donate generic drugs worth 2-5 million Euros to various associations.
However, it is certain that we need to be vigilant as to the use of drug donations: all donations must undergo serious testing. What good is the medication if the patient does not use it correctly? Or if the donated drugs end up on the black market?
The breaches in drug testing, from manufacturing to distribution, destabilize all countries. Internet for example allows the acquisition of medication without a prescription and with no guarantees of their origins. In poor countries, the lack of means and information encourages illegal distribution networks such as street vending. The World Health Organization estimates that 200 000 lives could be saved each year if all the medication taken was of good quality and correctly prescribed. So, yes to drug donations but with the accompanying requirement for tracking their final destination and use.
Drug donations are not a long term solution. In this perspective, training and informing both health officials and the general population is an absolute necessity. This is why the Fondation Chirac is invested in access to quality drugs and emphasizes the entire health chain: information, prevention, accessibility, training caregivers, detecting counterfeit drugs…. Assuring each and everyone the means to get well is not limited to giving access to medication.
The Fondation Chirac therefore supports state efforts in Benin and its partnership with the Pierre Fabre foundation. For the past 15 years, this country has restructured its health system through training pharmacists, information campaigns for health workers and the general population, and through the reorganization and modernization of its testing facilities (the Central Purchasing Center for essential medication or the Drugs Quality control Unit).
Finally, the fact that unused medication disappears is perhaps not as dangerous as we may fear for very often, this medication does not correspond to the needs of the country where they have been delivered.