Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, who opened the ceremony, said the recent abuse of the medicines had become a national threat, which required concerted efforts to nib it in the bud.
Mr Agyeman-Manu, therefore, tasked all stakeholders to come out with proactive and sustainable measures in fighting drug abuse and counterfeit drugs.
The programme is under theme: “Effective strategies for countering counterfeit drugs and substance Abuse.” The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), a bipartisan group of chief Legal Officers and Africa Alliance Partnership are the organisers.
Participants are expected to delve into topics such as the Importance of Cross- Agency collaboration to Detect and Prevent Drug counterfeiting, Detection and Cross-Border Control of Counterfeit Drugs.
Mr Agyeman Manu said that menace of pharmaceutical crime had not only become a global phenomenon but a threat to public health and “a significant threat to security and economies of countries.”
He explained that the production of falsified medicines was a multi -billion illegal business, which was sustained largely by the lure of high financial gain, combined with the low risk of detection and prosecution.
Citing a World Health Report, the Minister said one in 10 medical products in low and middle income countries was either substandard or falsified.
He said apart from the loss of revenue, productivity and upsurge of kidney problems, children were being recruited as drug peddlers because of the lighter sentences given to juveniles.
Mrs. Delese Mimi Darko, Chief Executive Officer, FDA, said the Authority through its market surveillance activities had detected the distribution of falsified versions of medicines including, anti-malarials, antibiotics, analgesics, codeine- containing cough syrups, and controlled substances such as Tramadol and diazepam from Far East countries and large quantities of aphrodisiacs with unknown content and origin on the Ghanaian market.
As part of efforts to curb the threats of the drugs, Mrs Darko said the FDA had undertaken nationwide public prevention and education product quality and safety monitoring programmes in public places
She said the FDA was, however, concerned about the alarming number of youth already addicted to Tramadol who required professional help to quit.
Mrs Darko, therefore, called for the establishment of functional Mental Health Units at all levels within healthcare systems to provide rehabilitation services for all drug addicts.
She appealed to the Pharmacy Council to monitor and ensure that best pharmacy practices were adhered to and rational use were enforced.
The FDA boss also appealed to the Ghana Revenue Authority- Customs Division to give visibility to enforcement agencies to be able to track counterfeit products at the ports of entries.
She said the FDA would be collaborating with the academia to conduct research into areas of drug abuse and counterfeiting to inform the regulatory interventions.
Mrs Darko told participants that their valuable input would be incorporated into the National Strategic Plan to address counterfeiting and drug abuse holistically.