On January 22 2021, H.E. Faure Gnassingbé, President of the Togolese Republic received in audience Mr. Richard Amalvy, Chief Executive of the Brazzaville Foundation who came to present the results and prospects of the Lomé Initiative one year after its launch.
The latter was present in Lomé, at the invitation of Professor Moustafa Mijiyawa, Minister of Health and Public Hygiene, to give an update on the implementation of the Lomé Initiative in Togo; the political and technical coordination of the Lomé Initiative at the level of the six signatory countries; the perspectives of the programme in terms of content and partnerships. The visit also allowed for a fruitful exchange with the WHO representative in Togo, Mrs. Fatoumata Binta Diallo, and her team.
An unprecedented initiative
On Saturday 18 January, the Lomé Initiative, developed by the Brazzaville Foundation, was officially launched by H.E. Faure Gnassingbé, President of Togo; H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda; H.E. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, as well as by the representatives of H.E. Denis Sassou N'guesso, President of the Republic of Congo; H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana; and H.E. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger.
The summit concluded with the signing of a political declaration committing states to fight against the trafficking of falsified and substandard medicines (FSM), to ratify existing international agreements and to introduce new criminal sanctions against traffickers. "This is the first time that we Africans have tackled the problem of fake medicines ourselves, a scourge of which our continent is the first victim and whose consequences are dramatic for our populations. Africa must engage in the fight against this deadly traffic," observed President Faure Gnassingbé at the end of the summit.
"The Brazzaville Foundation is extremely proud to have launched this initiative; we thank the Heads of State and the signatory countries for their long-term commitment," said Jean-Yves Ollivier, Founding President of the Brazzaville Foundation.
The progress of the initiative
Since the Summit, the various Ministries of Health have been mobilised in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This mobilisation has been the subject of national plans involving several ministerial departments. The approach adopted to develop these plans may be the same for the design and implementation of national plans to combat FSM. The health crisis carries a risk of worsening due to the dissemination of falsified pharmaceutical products (anti-malaria drugs, tests, vaccines), which calls for even greater urgency to implement the content of the draft Framework Agreement.
At the request of the signatory countries, the Foundation carried out a legislative audit in order to identify legislative loopholes and make recommendations for improvement at the national level and harmonisation at the international level. The audit was established during the year 2020. The health situation related to COVID-19 did not allow for the setting up of restitution seminars to be held at national level in the first half of 2021.
Research was also conducted in July to identify gaps in the pharmaceutical supply chain. The effects of corruption on the supply chain require action involving several ministerial departments within countries and the strengthening of international cooperation. The work carried out shows that while the fight against FSM is a public health issue, it also concerns justice and the rule of law at national and regional level. It appears that the elaboration of national plans to fight against the traffic of fake medicines including new legal instruments is the next step for the states involved.
In 2020, stakeholders agreed not to duplicate but to support existing relevant international agreements and the ratification of the African Medicines Agency, and to encourage other African states to join this initiative. To this end, on 2 December 2020, Professor Moustafa Mijiyawa and Mr Richard Amalvy, Director General of the Foundation, were heard at the third plenary meeting of the Committee of Parties to the Medicrime Convention of the Council of Europe. Togo, Senegal and the Republic of Congo should soon sign this international agreement.
In 2021, the Brazzaville Foundation will continue to provide technical support to the ministries in charge of public health.
From February to April, the Minister of Health of Togo and the Director General will undertake a series of coordination visits to the Ministers of Health of the signatory countries in order to strengthen common resources.