In life there are two kinds of people; those who complain and watch things happen, and those who jump in and make good things happen. In this blog I'll share with you the stories of people in and from Ghana who are changemakers and I hope to inspire you to leave the complainers on the sidelines who cannot see any good thing in Ghana and jump right into the fun and action!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ghanaian Student Develops Technology That Could Save Your Life

The Problem
Have you ever had malaria or another disease and taken a full course of medicine but still remained sick? The problem of counterfeit drugs in developing countries like Ghana is one that could kill you. The WHO estimates that up to 30% of drugs in developing countries are counterfeit and a recent study by the International Policy Network estimated that over 700,000 deaths from malaria and tuberculosis are attributable to fake drugs. In a place like Ghana where many families have to sacrifice other needs to purchase medicine, counterfeit drugs reduce the confidence that ordinary people have in the health care system and make them more vulnerable to fake spiritualists and healers.

The Solution
One person who is not simply complaining about this problem but has created a breakthrough solution is Ashifi Gogo, a Ghanaian Ph.D. Innovation Program candidate at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. His company Sproxil provides technology which allows any consumer to confirm a drug's authenticity with a simple text message. To check if a drug is counterfeit, a consumer simply scratches-off a code on the medication, sends a text message and obtains an instant response which says "Ok genuine medicine" or "No fake". The benefits to pharmaceutical companies for using this technology according to Sproxil, include reclaiming market share lost to counterfeiters, sending real-time offers at the point of purchase through text messaging to customers and locking down their supply chain to prevent product diversion. Sproxil provides a win-win for everyone, consumers as well as pharmaceutical companies.

The company which recently changed its name from mPedigree Logistics to Sproxil has won various awards including first place in the Nokia Innovators Competition, second place in the 2009 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), and a World Summit award for e-health and environment technology solution

Ashifi also co-founded nonprofit mPedigree based in Ghana whose mission is to protect patients and consumers in the developing world from fake medicines through advocacy, public education, research, and support for innovative technologies. mPedigree and its partners have developed an advocacy video "if symptoms persist. Below is a short trailer for the "if symptoms persist video and a video on the Nokia award.

What Do You Think of This Story
Have you had an experience with drugs that did not work? Do you have any other ideas that could deal with the problem of counterfeit drugs or have you been inspired by this story? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.


Elom Gnanih said...

This is an eye opener for me. I had no idea that fake drugs existed. Better yet such an innovative practice has inspired me. I am also completing my education overseas in accounting and I was looking at what I can do for my country and I kept on drawing blanks. I have regained some hope in the sense that innovation might just be thing missing from my search to be a help to Ghana.

Elom Gnanih

Mark Benson said...

By reading this post we can conclude that Ghanians sure are intelligent. About three years back I went for flights to Ghana and during my vacations I came across a boy in Accra who was quite an intelligent person. He was 17 at that time and his iq was like 35 year old.