Inter Agency Forum On Strategies For Countering Counterfeit Drugs And Substance Abuse – Symposium

Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) Ghana collaborated with CWAG AAP to host a symposium on the 14th May at the Accra Marriott Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The theme of the symposium was ‘An Inter–Agency Consultative Forum on the Strategies for Countering Counterfeit Drugs and Substance Abuse’ The aim of the symposium was for various stakeholders to share information and discuss solutions to curb the rise of counterfeit drugs and substance abuse in Ghana

The forum brought together personnel from 46 agencies in Ghana to brainstorm on the issue. These included distinguished delegates such as; Her ladyship Mrs. Justice Sophia Adinyira – Supreme Court Judge, Mrs. Helen Akpene Ziwu – Solicitor General, Attorney Generals Department and Ministry of Justice, Dr Anerfi Baah -Former Deputy Director, WHO and many more.

Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko -CEO, Food and Drugs Authority Ghana made the opening remarks where she mentioned that production and trafficking of falsified medicines is a multi-billion illegal business driven largely by the lure of high financial gains, combined with the perceived low risk of detection.

Mrs. Darko highlighted some key initiatives undertaken by the FDA to address the issue, including training and deploying personnel to go out and inspect products sold on the market. Mr. Markus Green ESQ -CWAG AAP on behalf of CWAG welcomed the participants to the forum and outlined the key roles CWAG AAP plays in assisting developing countries combat transnational crimes. Mr. Markus reinforced his commitment to in helping FDA Ghana to address the challenges addressed in the forum. Hon. Kwaku Agyemang -Minister of Health, Ghana made a keynote address where hespoke on the rise of counterfeit drugs and urged the various agencies present to collaborate and develop proactive and sustainable measures to fight counterfeit drugs and drug abuse in Ghana.

Mr. Pierre Souverain -Global Security Director, Pfizer representing CWAG presented his detailed breakdown on the global perspective on the growth of counterfeit drugs. Mr. Vigil Prah Ashun –FDA highlighted the scale of counterfeit drugs and substance abuse in West Africa. He stated counterfeit drugs reduce the confidence in the health system but more importantly is a threat to human health.

Mrs. Olivia Boateng -FDA spoke on The Opioid Crisis and Substance Abuse. The growing trend of

Tramadol abuse among Ghanaian youth has become a major issue for the health sector. Tramadol abuse can cause psychotic problems as well as damage vital organs. Dr. Akwasi Osei – CEO Mental Health Authority stated that “Out of the 300,000 attendances at the psychiatric hospitals, over 100,000 were related to drug abuse in 2017″

Ms. Obianuju Otudor -Punuka Attorneys & Solicitors representing CWAG AAP outlined the importance of cross agency collaboration to detect and prevent drug counterfeiting. Mrs. Audrey Francesca Dekalu -Ghana Journalist Association presented on ‘The Role of the Media’. Mrs. Dekalu said the media had over the years been an important ally in public health and a source of correct information as well as advocates of right positive health behaviour. Therefore, she urged the FDA to cultivate a strong collaboration between the authority and media in their educational campaign drive against Tramadol abuse and counterfeit drugs in Ghana.

The presentations culminated in an informative and interactive Panel Discussion moderated by Pierre Souverain workshop, participants chimed in with some of their own practices.