Vatican Denounces Fake Meds for Poor

Notes Most Victims Are Children

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POZNAN, Poland, SEPT. 14, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As many as 50% of medicines sold in Africa could be fake, according to the president of the Vatican’s health care council.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, affirmed this at a conference of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists. The four-day meeting ended today in Poznan. The theme of the conference focused on ethics and awareness for pharmacists in the field of medicine security.

Archbishop Zimowski’s denunciation took up statistics from the World Health Organization. Unofficial sources cited by the L’Osservatore Romano on the conference contended that in some African nations, actually as many as 60% of medications are fake.

The World Health Organization contends that in regions of Southeast Asia and Latin America, as many as 30% of medicines could be fake.

“The manipulation and falsification of medicines,” the archbishop explained in his intervention “primarily affects children. Fake antibiotics and fake vaccinations cause grave harm for their health.”

“There are many deaths because of respiratory illnesses among African children, because they are treated with false antibiotics that don’t have an active ingredient, but which are sold at high prices,” he said.

Citing “Caritas in Veritate,” the archbishop affirmed that counterfeit medication is an ethical emergency in developing countries. 

He invited Catholic pharmacists to “courageously denounce every form of falsification and counterfeiting of medicine, and oppose its distribution.”

Archbishop Zimowski said the children who are victimized by this situation “let out a silent scream of suffering that tugs at our consciences” as persons, whether or not we are believers.

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On the Net:

World Health Organization on counterfeit medicine: www.who.int/medicines/services/counterfeit/en/index.html

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