2015 was set as the target year to reach the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The fourth goal relates to a topic receiving a lot of attention lately: reducing child mortality. Childhood mortality is an indicator of a country’s public health position, which translates to the country’s socio-economic development level. While some countries have made significant progress in achieving this goal, others are struggling to tackle this problem. Child mortality could be caused by a variety of reasons such as the prevalence of life threatening diseases in the country, unsanitary environments, lack of financial resources, limited access to healthcare, and even ingestion of dangerous counterfeit medication. Safemedicines.org noted that Ghanaian children in 2010 suffered 110 deaths for each 1,000 children under five: a startling 11% of children. A very common source of these deaths was due to malaria. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 7% of child deaths are caused by malaria. Not by coincidence, anti-malarial drugs are one of the most counterfeited drugs in Sub-Saharan Africa. From the incorrect dose of the active ingredient to no active ingredient at all, fake medicines have been found to have deadly impacts on their users.
Precautionary measures can be put in place such as protecting children with mosquito nets and repellants and spraying the house with insecticides. While this can significantly reduce likelihood of getting bitten, people can still be left vulnerable to disease-carrying mosquitos. This is why it is so important that consumers have access to effective, legitimately sourced anti-malarial drugs.
Counterfeiting anti-malarial drugs is a vicious attack on the worldwide public health system. This attack is sometimes understated and ignored but happens to account for deaths of children under five who otherwise had the potential to be productive members of society.
Combating counterfeit anti-malaria drugs requires:
- A sustainable technological solution.
- A strong involvement and collaboration of drug regulatory bodies with solution providers in countries with a prevalence of malaria.
- Strategic partnerships with organizations that create awareness and educate consumers to enable a malaria-free future exist in these countries. Organizations such as Fight the fakes and Malaria no more work hard to raise awareness and reduce unnecessary deaths.
As 2015 progresses and countries strive to achieve their MDGs, it is important to make smart moves to ensure that these goals are met. Integrating the right solutions into your current systems goes a long way in helping achieve the goals. Let us invest in the lives of these children, the leaders of tomorrow.