A high-level panel on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa said Africa needs to act against the importation of counterfeit medicines.
The panel brought together representatives and experts from finance ministries, the African Development Bank (AfDB), local and foreign investors in the pharmaceuticals industry, the African Union and UN agencies.
‘Substantial amounts of pharmaceuticals imports have been found to be counterfeit,’ said Suleimane Abdallah of the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.
According to Abdallah, African countries will need to adopt high standards and tight measures against counterfeiting of medicinal drugs.
Though there have not been adequate studies in the continent, counterfeit medicines pose major health hazards to Africans.
Abdallah said Africa produces only 2% of the medicines it consumes and much of this limited production was concentrated in South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya.
Of the total global health expenditure of $4 trillion, Africa’s share is only 1%, said Dr. Janet Byaruhanga, a health officer with the African Union Commission.
Delegates heard that direct capital provision by governments, direct government expenditure to reduce the cost of financing and innovative procurement were needed to prop up the sector in Africa.