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03 September 2010

East Africa’s Zanzibar Declaration to boost fight against counterfeit medical products and pharmaceutical crimes

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania – A meeting involving East African countries which recently participated in Operation Mamba III targeting counterfeit medical products and pharmaceutical offences has unanimously endorsed a declaration to further harmonise the region’s approach against such crimes through closer co-operation with international law enforcement.

Under the Zanzibar Declaration, national and regional authorities will closely partner INTERPOL and other stakeholders such as the World Customs Organization (WCO) to establish national joint taskforces to fight counterfeit medical products and other pharmaceutical crimes. The declaration also calls for better use of existing networks to obtain and share information on suspects and suspected companies, in particular INTERPOL’s I-24/7 global police communications system; for more targeted and intelligence-led operations; and for greater public awareness on the dangers posed by counterfeit medical products.

Participating countries at the two-day meeting (1-2 September) also expressed their support for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT), especially its enforcement component.

“The unanimous adoption of the Zanzibar Declaration represents a significant step forward in the fight against medical products counterfeiting and pharmaceutical crimes across East Africa and serves as a model for other regions worldwide. It shows how bridges can be built between different agencies and national authorities to formulate a stronger enforcement response to these unacceptable criminal acts,” said the head of INTERPOL’s Medical Products Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) unit, Aline Plançon.

Officials at the Zanzibar meeting included the heads of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as senior national Criminal Investigation Department police officials, heads of regulatory authorities, heads of customs from those countries and Zanzibar, and representatives from the East Africa Community Secretariat, WHO national representatives and the WCO Regional Liaison Office Bureau.

The event brought together the countries and international agencies which participated in Operation Mamba III (July-August 2010), an East African operation which netted some 10 tons of seized counterfeit and illegally diverted medical products and led to more than 80 arrests of individuals suspected of involvement in the illegal manufacture, trafficking or sale of such products.