Toolkit Quality of Medicines
Substandard and falsified medicines pose a serious threat to public health, especially in developing countries. Alarming reports have been published on the scale of this problem. EPN member Difaem started supporting EPN members in 2010 to test the quality of medicines used in their facilities to see if they met the standard specifications. Today 14 - users of the so called Minilab form the Difaem-EPN-Minilab Network. They are based in Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, India, Ghana, Nigeria and Burundi. There is a close communication to guarantee results are quickly forwarded to Difaem for further action and that the members receive follow up trainings and re-stocking of the materials used.
In November 2015 the second Difaem-EPN-Minilab-Workshop took place in Kampala, Uganda, hosted by EPN member Joint Medical Stores and supported by Difaem.The meeting was led by Albert Petersen from Difaem. Twenty four (24) participants from 12 countries attended the workshop that discussed topics around the quality of medicines, updates on the Minilab profile, challenges, results of 2015 and the 2016 Action Plans.
The main medicines that failed the tests were amoxicillin, cloxacillin, Duo-Cotecxin, mebendazole, erythromycin, sulfadoxine/pyrimethamine, quinine and griseofulvin. Most of these are antibiotics and antimalarials which is very scary as they are among the most widely used medicines for treatment of infections and malaria.Participants and the workshop organizers expected a broader range of medicines to fail the tests as often reported in the media. However the moderator explained that similar studies done on the quality of medicines showed the percentage failure to be in the same region that EPN found, around 5% failure rate. One such study is the Malaria Medicine Study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Also as a follow up to the 2013 Minilab Workshop held in Limbe Cameroon, participants were introduced to new tools for raising awareness on Quality of Medicines targeting health care workers in church health institutions. The tools had been finalized by EPN and each participant was given the tools to take to their facilities. These tools included IEC materials, posters and powerpoint presentations.EPN presented a Course it had developed for raising awareness and knowledge on the topic of quality the Minilab Network adopted for use in their facilities.