The heads of various public administrations concerned with the fight against counterfeit drugs agreed to synergise efforts to stem the scourge during the first multi-sectoral meeting of the national committee of the sector last week
Last week, a considerable consignment of contraband medications were seized in the border locality of Ekok in the South West Region by the defence and security forces of Cameroon in collaboration with customs officials.
The same week, officials of the national committee for the fight against counterfeit drugs was meeting in Yaounde to explore means of tackling fake drugs.
Each year, tens of thousands of people across Africa die or get sick from ingesting counterfeit drugs, not less so in Cameroon. Last Tuesday’s meeting at the Ministry of Public Health saw the sectors involved, namely the Services of the Prime Ministry, Customs, the Ministry of Decentralization and Local Development, the Ministry of Justice, that of Territorial Administration, the Police, the Gendarmerie, Civil Society and many others agreeing to pull their resources together to keep counterfeit drugs in the country at bay.
The resources will bolster efforts aimed at provision of a brigade during operations; the initiation of drug categorization; the referral of cases of offenses to the competent authorities, as well the strengthening of the capacities of those involved in the fight.
It was revealed that strides being made to fight against fake drugs such as the seizure and destruction of shipments and the setting up of regional and departmental control committees are dampened byexisting bottlenecks namely weakness of customs texts, the absence of a brigade during operations,and the lack of financing of the regional committees.
The next meeting for the national committee for the fight against counterfeit drugs is slated for April 15, 2022.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the street drugs kill at least 100,000 people in Africa every year. The WHO estimate that 20-30% of medical products in circulation in most African countries are substandard or falsified.
The sale of counterfeit and unauthorised sale of pharmaceutical drugs in Cameroon meets with several criminal charges. These criminal sanctions are provided in the different pieces of legislation regulating pharmaceutical drugs dealing. But critics have over the years said the pieces of legislation only identify the offences and prescribe their sanctions, without really defining or giving adequate understanding as to the meaning of the breaches therein stated in the legal punitive provisions.