Counterfeit medicines kill up to 500,000 sub-Saharan Africans per year, according to a recent United Nations report. In response to this crisis, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is helping health officials in Madagascar ensure that medicines in the country are safe and effective.
At a July 10 ceremony held at the Ministry of Public Health, USAID Mission Director Anne N. Williams handed over essential pharmaceutical laboratory equipment and supplies valued at $155,000 (706 million ariary) to the General Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Lethicia Lydia Yasmine.
“USAID applauds [Madagascar’s’] efforts to improve laboratory infrastructure and staff capacity, ” Williams said. “This important work will protect Malagasy citizens from the public health risks posed by substandard and unregulated medicines.”
Part of USAID’s Promoting the Quality of Medicines Plus (PQM+) project, the equipment will be used by the Madagascar Medicine Regulation Agency (AMM). The donation includes a medicines dissolution tester used to analyze how well medicines dissolve and release active ingredients in the body.
Additional laboratory equipment will help AMM test the efficacy of maternal and child health, family planning, and antimalarial medicines already on the market. Monitoring by the National Medical Quality Control Laboratory is critical because counterfeit and substandard medicines can lead to patient suffering and increase health care costs.
USAID has long partnered with the Ministry of Public Health to ensure patients receive high quality, safe, and effective medicines, and develop strong regulatory systems to monitor the quality of publicly available medical products.
Through technical assistance from PQM+, USAID is helping increase AMM’s capacity to monitor medical products on Madagascar’s market as well as inspect pharmaceutical outlets, such as pharmacies and wholesalers, to ensure that medicines are stored and distributed properly.
Like “mpirahalahy mianala,” the people of the United States walk hand in hand with the people of Madagascar to improve the health and well-being of the Malagasy people. It is the largest bilateral donor to Madagascar’s health sector, allocating more than $440 million since 2015.