I see four main areas: first, the continuation of advocacy at the highest levels of governance in support of the fight against falsified or sub-standard medicines that began at the Fondation Chirac’s initiative in Cotonou in October 2009. Mobilization must not wane over time.
The upcoming, regional meeting will enable the sharing of experiences in the fight against falsified or sub-standard medicines and therefore the identification of successful efforts.
The participation of diverse experts with an array of skills will help to consolidate and adopt, at the technical level, the action plan to fight against falsified medicines elaborated by the West African Health Organisation so that it can be used as a roadmap by all West African countries.
Finally, this panel should also contribute to developing a platform of technical and financial partners dedicated to the issue of falsified or sub-standard medicines in West Africa.
What are the necessary conditions for such a platform to succeed?
They will not have adequate means if we are not able to convince technical and financial partners to commit to its development. Furthermore, we must all pool our available resources. Finally, if the action plan does not have an anchoring structure to coordinate all operations, the platform will most certainly collapse.
In this context, what can the WHO do to ensure the sustainability of these efforts?
The World Health Organization derives its legitimacy from its technical expertise in assessing the situation of falsified medicines in different countries. This international institution has the means to develop strategies and define measures to ensure the availability of quality drugs at affordable costs. Another of its strengths is its preventive capacity. Furthermore, it could also help monitor and evaluate the platform.
What do you think are the regional constraints impeding regional efforts against this traffic?
The first obstacle is the lack of political commitment, The only true entity capable of triggering a real process. The involvement of States and their government is decisive. In the fight against falsified medicines, the region of West Africa would most definitely benefit from having an identifiable regional structure overseeing this fight. This would avoid the need to manage a multitude of independent actions; inter-sectoral coordination would make all the difference. Added to this are the lack of skilled human resources from all concerned sectors and the lack of financial and material resources.