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Countries Commit To Take Action to Prevent Theft of Medicines

05 December 2011

High Level Meeting held in Ethiopia, hosted by Global Fund and Roll Back Malaria

Report of the High-Level Meeting on Theft and Illegal Diversion of Medicines
download in English

ADDIS ABABA – The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria hosted a second meeting to coordinate action to prevent theft and illegal diversion of medicines. It gathered almost one hundred participants and concluded with a commitment by eight Health Ministers and other implementers of health programs to review and tighten its procedures to prevent drug theft.

The Global Fund, together with international partners, agreed to support such action, recognizing that a sustainable reduction in drug theft can only happen when implementing countries take the lead in strengthening procedures and safety measures to ensure safe delivery of drugs.

“This meeting is an important milestone in the fight against drug theft and diversion,” said Dr. Debrework Zewdie, Deputy Executive Director of the Global Fund, who chaired the meeting. “ Today we have identified recurring vulnerabilities and risks, we shared best practices, and developed recommendations to inform the action plans that will be developed by implementers at country level. The Global Fund is committed to strengthen the Supply Chain Management capacity of countries to ensure drugs get to those in need,” she added. “We must sustain our efforts to address this problem to continue to have donor confidence in investing in medicines.”

The Global Fund initiated this process to strengthen action against drug theft. Funding constrains make it imperative for both international organizations and implementing countries to address issues that can put scarce resources at risk.

Theft of drugs is an old and persistent problem in developed and developing countries alike, especially for drugs that may be cheap or free in the public sector but fetch high prices on the open market or in neighboring countries with different pricing policies. Problems are exacerbated by limited resources and imperfect distribution systems in many of the world’s poorest countries.

“This problem cannot be left unaddressed. Doing so could result in stock-outs and treatment disruptions,” said HE Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Minister of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone. “One medicine stolen means that one mother goes without it. It means that one life might be lost. I’m not going to let that happen”.

The First High Level Meeting was held in February 2011 in Geneva.

The conference report will be available on the Global Fund website.