Falsified Medical Products in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa: The role of regulatory

By Danélia Botes

October 9, 2023

The Challenges of Substandard Medical Products

Substandard and falsified (SF) medical products pose a significant threat to public health. These products can cause harm, fuel resistance to genuine treatments, and undermine health systems. In Francophone sub-Saharan Africa, SF products are increasingly prevalent, largely due to the limited capacity of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) to fulfil their functions.

Solutions and Initiatives

Several initiatives are helping to combat this issue. The African Union (AU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched the African Medicine Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH) Initiative and the African Medicines Agency (AMA). These initiatives aim to strengthen regulation and supply of quality-assured medical products.

The WHO Member State Mechanism is another important initiative, focusing on tackling SF medical products from a public health approach. Unfortunately, no NRAs in French-speaking Africa have yet achieved a maturity level 3. This indicates a stable, well-functioning, and integrated regulatory system. However, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, and Senegal are actively engaged in this process and could progress rapidly.

Academia also plays a crucial role in combating SF medical products. Universities like the University of Senegal Cheikh Anta Diop and the University of Douala in Cameroon have implemented a curriculum guide on SF medical products, educating future specialists and policymakers.

Procurement agencies, such as the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN), have also engaged in surveillance of SF medical products, integrating their data with national post-marketing surveillance of NRAs.

In conclusion, preventing, detecting, and responding to SF medical products remains a challenge in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa. However, through collective efforts and initiatives, progress is being made.

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