Under the patronage of His Excellency Mr. Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Owais Minister of Health, Ministry of Health - The Public Health Policy & Licensing Sector recently organized a two days conference ‘Emirates International Conference on Combating Drug Counterfeiting’ was organized at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai, 20th & 21st April’2015.
The International Conference, under the theme “Working Together Against Counterfeits”, has certainly emerged as an ambitious conference planned and systematically put into a roll-out by the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Program of Ministry of Health, giving an extraordinary opportunity to the youth in UAE to comprehend and identify the threats that counterfeits pose on human lives.
HE Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri, Undersecretary for Public Health Policy & Licensing Sector, Ministry of Health, UAE & Chairman of the Conference along with several notable International and National speakers from elite organizations like World Health Organization Geneva, Interpol Portugal, Food and Drug Administration USA, World Customs Organization Belgium, Pharmaceutical Security Institute USA, Turkish Medicines and Medical Device Agency, Turkey, Les Laboratoires Servier France Dubai Customs, Dubai Police, HAAD and several others’ related to global pharmaceutical fraud, graciously shared their expertise and views with the youth during the ‘Special Public Session’ organized for the purpose.
Closely, fifty high school and university students, all member of youth group SynergY were among the many others interested who attended the ‘Public Session’ from 5 - 7 pm on 20th April 2015 and interacted with the speakers, asking valuable questions and getting some valuable information and finding answers to them.
Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri enlightened the youngsters with the fact that “The Medicine Counterfeit is a serious phenomenon that threatens the International Health & Financial Security affecting patient’s health and may lead to thousands of death cases, and likewise threatens countries economics with losses that reach billions of Dollars.” He continued to say “Ministry of Health has organized this Conference to study this phenomenon seeking to find solutions, to reduce or stop it, in order to protect and maintain our countries health and economic security.”
My first question from among the youth present, as the Founder of SynergY, says Simran Vedvyas was directed to Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri himself ‘Being born and brought up in Dubai, I understand that we don’t have much fear of Counterfeits here but which are the drugs that general public needs to be particularly vigilant and aware of as travelers to the other countries being counterfeits’ and, this found a convincing answer that ‘Anyone before traveling to other countries especially to the developing countries, must ensure to check the information about the drugs available in the place they are going to visit, and only buy them from registered or authorized hospitals, pharmacies and not take this subject lightly as it directly affects our health and lives’. This gave a start to a very enriching session that touched on counterfeits approximate sales figures, logistics and how they can be curbed, following on to the consequences faced by the suppliers, dealers and consumers of such counterfeits.
Another interesting question raised by young Ronika Alves, SynergY member emphasized that, ‘there are hundreds of families who are forced to succumb to the counterfeits as they belong to the low income groups and are unable to secure expensive drugs in hopes to save the lives of near and dear ones.’ This was answered by Mr. Michael Deats from World Health Organization Geneva, where he suggested, the need to look into the Drug Pricing Policies and underlined that the principal concern of the WHO is the protection of public health under the universal health coverage which can only be upheld by the universal access to unadulterated medical products.
He also said it is the “interconnectivity” among all governments and the public, arising from heightened awareness, world-class training, political will as well as the firm implementation on the ground which supersedes all national and regional efforts, despite the limited resources of some countries will boost the fight against the counterfeits.
Attending this session, we youth from SynergY and more are determined to join forces and reach out to the community, other youth and public to take joined ownership in this fight by further disseminating information and sharing our understanding through the support of press, social media and our schools.
It was thought-provoking to hear the concluding remarks form Mr. Ashley How from PSI UK as he avowed that, the aim of this Conference is not only to just promote public awareness about counterfeit medicines, the consequence and negative impact on public health but to enhance enforcement against those who counterfeit medicines, by sharing best practices, encouraging transnational cooperation and collaboration. The Conference has highlighted the importance of legislative and regulatory reforms and is developing task forces and plans of action at Regional and International levels starting with those countries that represent at the conference.