Bridging the Gap in Africa's Fight Against Substandard Drugs: Challenges and Solutions

Tackling substandard drugs in Africa's public health goals. Explore initiatives & tech to ensure accessible, quality medicine for vulnerable populations.
Health for Africa (Wikimedia Commons)
Health for Africa (Wikimedia Commons)

In Africa, achieving public health goals faces many hurdles, with substandard and counterfeit drugs being a significant concern. The rising disease burden highlights the urgent need for accessible and affordable quality medicine to attain sustainable development goals for good health and Well-being.

More research and suggestions are continuously being rolled out but there remains a significant gap between advocacy and enforcement of the reforms and laws enacted to solve the problem. In Nigeria, the revised National Drug Distribution guideline aims to guarantee the safety, efficacy, affordability, and quality of all drugs within the distribution system. Additionally, it endeavors to eliminate the prevalence of unregulated drug markets in the country. Unfortunately, the reality proves otherwise as some retail and wholesale pharmacies, as well as health agencies still obtain their medicines from the unregulated and unlicensed open drug market dealers. 

over 1 in 10 medicines in low and middle income countries is either substandard or falsified.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director General WHO

Meanwhile, cutting-edge technologies such as mobile authentication service, TruScan, GPHF minilab, Black Eye, and Radio Frequency identification have been deployed in several African Countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. Mobile authentication Service, in particular, has been lauded in some studies to reduce the burden of counterfeit drugs. However, it faces the challenges of inappropriate media awareness campaigns, people’s inability to procure the appropriate phone technology, and access to good network services required to operate the MAS scheme.

In Africa, weak healthcare systems and limited access to infrastructure hinder public health aspirations. Combating substandard and counterfeit drugs is critical. Governments and stakeholders must unite to bolster local pharmaceutical manufacturing and enhance cross-border monitoring.

A Video Bound by Vishal Mishra (@vishal1998) on Pharmacovigilance
A Video Bound by Vishal Mishra (@vishal1998) on Pharmacovigilance

Have a look at this Bound by @vishal1998 on MedBound (

Unfortunately, the poor, seeking discounted healthcare, often fall prey to informal health sectors like Patent Medicine Vendors and Medicine Sellers. One could say, they are Penny-wise and pound foolish. But often, circumstances push individuals to such ill-fated situations.

To alleviate this, efforts must focus on reducing out-of-pocket expenses for quality drugs and healthcare services for vulnerable populations.

Follow the Author on MedBound: Haruna Abdulmajid (@Ampicillin_50)