Managing Director of Merck South Africa Mr. Klaus Boehm handing over mini labs to the Director General of Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) Mr. Hiiti Sillo at a press conference today.
Merck delegates, TFDA delegates and a representative from the German Embassy in Tanzania in a group photo after the minilab handover press conference in Dar es Salaam today.
To help combat counterfeit medicines in Tanzania, GPHF (the Global Pharma Health Fund), a charitable initiative funded by the German pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company Merck (www.merckgroup.com), presented four mobile compact laboratories to Hiiti Sillo, the head of TFDA (Tanzanian Food and Drugs Authority)in Dar es Salaam today. The TFDA is part of the Tanzanian Health Ministry.
Also called Minilabs, are part of a donation to the Tanzanian Health Minister announced in February, this year. These Minilabs are globally unique and ensure better quality control for medicines especially in rural and far-flung areas.
“TFDA is currently in possession of 11 Minilabs that are used for screening medicines at different ports of entry, at the hospitals and retail shops, including pharmacies. This will indeed help TFDA to eliminate substandard and counterfeit medicines from the public,” said Hiiti. “One Minilab is worth about 7, 9 million Tanzanian shillings (around €4,000), but the most important value is to improve healthcare,” explains Klaus Boehm, Managing Director of Merck in South Africa.
“Essentially, these Minilabs will also ensure that scarce resources are not wasted on these dangerous medicinal scams. Our modest contribution certainly will save lives of many unsuspecting people,” Boehm added.
Interpol estimates that 10% to 30% of all medicines in Africa are counterfeit or of inferior quality. In this context, GPHF Minilabs offer rapid, easy and low cost test methods to check medicines for external abnormalities and identifies 57 active pharmaceutical ingredients which are generally used for antibiotics, anthelmintics, virustatics, anti-malarial medicines, tuberculostatics and other medicines, particularly used for infectious diseases.
To date, GPHF has supplied over 500 Minilabs to more than 80 countries, which one-third are in Asia and half of these countries are located in Africa, including Tanzania. The Minilabs are reliably and rapidly used to identify inferior and counterfeit medicines with instantaneous results.
The Minilab encloses a combination of simple, reliable onsite testing and a manual with detailed instructions on conducting unique tests. Training is also offered to ensure that the users are familiar with the testing procedure.
In addition, 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 optimising the Minilab.