July 22, 2019

President of Uganda considers blockchain to tackle counterfeit drugs

By Robert Scammell

The president of Uganda, Yoweri Musevini, is to explore a blockchain solution for tackling counterfeit drugs in the country’s pharmaceutical sector.

This follows a meeting in Kampala between Musevini and Uebert Angel, a partner of UK blockchain platform MediConnect, and other government officials.

According to MediConnect, the Ugandan government pledged its support to use its blockchain solution, which uses distributed ledger technology to track medicines in the supply chain.

Information stored on the digital ‘blocks’ that make up a blockchain is immutable. The idea is that manufacturers, wholesalers, prescribers and pharmacies will log the drug’s journey on the blockchain so that patients will be able to verify that it came from a reputable source.

In Uganda, 10% of prescribed drugs have substandard or counterfeit copies of them sold in the market, according to the Ugandan National Drug Authority.

Previous efforts have focused more on recovering counterfeit drugs through raids, as well as public awareness campaigns.

Angel, a televangelist and businessman, said:

“Travelling to Uganda, I was shocked by the extent to which counterfeit drugs have ruined the lives of the most vulnerable people in society. It is therefore humbling to be able to make a difference by investing in the country’s pharmaceutical sector and partnering with MediConnect to identify fake dugs and prevent them from reaching end-users.

“In our meeting with President Musevini, he made clear his commitment to eliminating counterfeit drugs in Uganda and I am delighted that his government is interested in exploring the use of MediConnect as a national-level solution to achieve this goal.”

Musevini has often been vocal about his support for blockchain solutions in Uganda and how they can be used to improve sectors such as agriculture, ICT and services.

He has previously met the founder of cryptocurrency exchange Binance. Earlier this month he officiated the 2019 Africa Blockchain Conference.

Dexter Blackstock, CEO of MediConnect, added: “The Ugandan President, Minister of Health and National Drug Authority all understand the need to act fast to tackle the country’s counterfeit drug problem and recognise the benefits offered by tracing medication on the secure, scalable blockchain framework we are developing.

“We see this as an important opportunity for MediConnect to form part of Uganda’s national infrastructure and protect its citizens by ensuring all drugs in circulation are authentic and safe.”

Read more: Africa blockchain partnership to offer electronic cash to millions


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