Today I read about falsified COVID-19 vaccines being identified in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This demonstrates that the fight against fake medicines is ongoing and serves as a timely reminder about the risks being faced by patients.
Why was this so timely . . . ?
Only yesterday I had the privilege to join a panel at the GS1 Healthcare 3rd Online Summit. The session focused on the progress being made in Africa, on the journey towards Healthcare Supply Chain Traceability.
The session chaired by Tom Woods, Global Steering Committee for Quality Assurance - World Bank, highlighted the progress being made in countries such as Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Rwanda.
Also included was a presentation of the Verification and Traceability Initiative, which is supporting countries to reduce the urgent risk of falsified and diverted health products. Initially focused on COVID-19 vaccines, the initiative has a vision of working towards national traceability of all vaccines, medicines, and health products.
UNICEF and its partners (USAID, Gavi, The Global Fund, The World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation) provided an overview of the repository, currently being set up, which will allow the verification of COVID-19 vaccines, using GS1 standards.
Whilst systems alone will not fully address the risks, when combined with other interventions, such as destroying used vials and packaging after use, we can make a difference in the fight against fake healthcare products.
One of my takeaway thoughts, having participated in the Summit, is that we are now at the start of the next wave of countries which are embarking on their journey towards Healthcare traceability. There is also a tremendous drive by these countries to deliver the benefits which we have seen in places such as Argentina, Turkey, and the European Union. We must support these countries and use the knowledge and experience gained over the past ten years of traceability deployment to help them be successful.
There is no doubt that we are going to see more Lower Middle Income Countries (LMICs) adopting GS1 standards to increase supply chain visibility and secure the supply chain. We must all do our part to support these countries on their journey towards traceability, to ensure we protect every patient from fakes.
Principal Consultant - Be4ward