Mobile Compact Lab presented to Botswana
By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
To help improve health care in Botswana, the Global Pharma Health Fund, a charitable initiative funded by Merck, a leading science and technology company, has donated a mobile compact laboratory to the Health Ministry in the capital city of Gaborone to help detect counterfeit medicines. The so-called Minilab can be used to identify inferior and counterfeit medicines rapidly and reliably. In this context, Kai Beckmann, Member of the Executive Board of Merck, met with the Minister of Health of Botswana Dorcas Makgato today in Gaborone. The Minilab is worth around 45,254 Botswana Pula (approx. € 4,000).
“Counterfeit medicines pose a serious threat to public health globally, here in Botswana as well,” said Makgato. The International Police Organization Interpol estimates that up to 30% of all medicines in Africa are either counterfeit or of inferior quality. Beckmann explained: “The mobile compact laboratories are globally unique for their ability to detect counterfeits quickly, cost-efficiently and reliably. With them, one can relieve bottlenecks in quality control for medicines, especially in rural areas. In addition, we are helping to improve the structures for drug monitoring and ensuring that scarce resources are not wasted on worthless, and even hazardous, medicines.”
The Minilab developed by the Global Pharma Health Fund (GPHF) consists of two portable and tropic-resistant suitcases that contain the means to detect inferior or ineffective medicines. It offers quick, simple and low-cost test methods to check medicines for external abnormalities, identity and content, and identifies 75 active pharmaceutical ingredients, particularly those in medicines commonly used against infectious diseases. The test methods include those for common antibiotics, anthelmintics, virustatics, anti-malarial medicines, tuberculostatics, and other medicines.
To date, the GPHF has supplied over 700 Minilabs at cost, to more than 90 countries. More than half of these countries are located in Africa. The combination of a simple, reliable test set for onsite testing and a manual with detailed instructions on performing the test is unique. Merck continues to participate in external research with the aim of increasing the number of medicines that can be tested as well as to discover other possibilities for optimizing the Minilab. Training is also offered to ensure that the users are familiar with the test procedure.
Merck, within the scope of its responsible corporate governance, is committed to improving access to health for underserved populations in low-and middle-income countries. Health, along with environment and culture, represent Merck’s strategic spheres of activities that are part of the company’s Corporate Responsibility strategy.
Merck has delivered healthcare services in Africa since 1897. With a population rising faster than in any other global market and a growing middle class, the company is increasingly tapping into the continent’s innovative spirit to create health awareness and help respond to unmet medical needs.
The Group’s Executive Board is visiting 10 African countries this week to underscore its commitment and rising importance of the continent. Among others, Merck seeks to start local production diabetes treatment in Algeria, inaugurate an office in Nigeria and start the sale of its Muse® Auto CD4/CD4% System to detect HIV.
Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 40,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.