Ghanaian partnership to battle Cholera, Ebola through tech

By Tom Jackson, South Africa

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) has partnered with mPedigree Network and PopOut to launch the PREVENT initiative, which looks to employ technology to crack down on fake and counterfeit medicines.

PREVENT - which stands for “Patients’ Research, Empowerment, Vigilance, and Education Through New Technologies” - is looking to prevent fake and counterfeit medicines from entering the Ghanaian supply chain by improving vigilance, empowering patients, and educating the public.

This will be done through social media and the mPedigree Goldkeys platform, which enables patients and customers to use their mobile phones to verify medicines at various pharmacies.

“Once a fake or counterfeit medicine slips through the system and enter a pharmacy, the harm has already been done,” said James Ohemeng Kyei, president of the PSGH. “This is now even more critical as this country confronts epidemics such as Cholera, and as fears are mounting about Ebola. Fake antibiotics and other medicines would only undermine the control of epidemics.”

The initiative is encouraging people to visit its website as well as its Twitter and Facebook pages for important tips and alerts on how to keep safe and avoid fake medicines, while PREVENT has partnered with a number of pharmaceutical companies for the mobile authentication of medicines programme.

A patient or customer can scratch off a panel on a mini-label and a gold padlock with a key insert, on a pack of medicine, and SMS the revealed PIN to shortcode 1393. They will then receive a response as to the authenticity of the medicine.

“It is the expectation of the Pharmaceutical Society and its partners that over the next three years, millions of Ghanaians will be able to improve their confidence in the quality of pharmaceuticals sold in Ghana, and that this shall also improve confidence in the pharmacy profession,” said Kyei. “For this to happen, the PSGH aims to collaborate with critical government institutions and regulatory agencies, such as the Food & Drug Authority, the Ministry of Health, as well as Civil Society and the private sector.”

mPedigree, which currently operates in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, is set to further its African expansion by launching its services in Rwanda shortly, while also targeting further launches in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.

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