Zanzibar adopts security label to fight fake meds, cosmetics

The authorities in Zanzibar have introduced a security label aimed at local importers and distributors of medicines, cosmetics and personal care products.

The Kulinda label – developed and implemented by a consortium of tech providers – was due to come into use at the start of the month and consists of a security label that is serialised, barcoded and protected via a two-factor authentication system in addition to various embedded overt and covert security features.

Traceability is achieved using a serialised QR code, with various digital and taggant technologies providing authentication features.

The goal of the programme is to “fully arrest influx of counterfeit, substandard, expired and diverted products,” said the Zanzibar Food and Drug Agency (ZFDA) in a statement. “All importers and distributors must ensure they source their products from genuine manufacturers, whether brand owners directly or their trusted suppliers.”

A key part of the system is the ability for end-users of medicines and other products to check their purchase at the point of sale, along with authentication features that ZFDA inspectors can use at any point in the supply chain to confirm compliance.

One of the architects of the Kulinda system told that other countries in Africa are also looking at rolling it out as an alternative to current systems that are either too expensive, too slow to deploy, or lack effectiveness.

“We have been searching for several years for the best solution to solve the problems we are facing in Zanzibar with counterfeit and substandard medicines,” said Dr. Burhani Simai, ZFDA’s executive director.

“We found the Kulinda program to be far superior to all others, and have therefore chosen it to protect our citizens and visitors,” he added. “The ZFDA is committed to making Zanzibar the safest place in all of Africa against the threat to public safety from counterfeits, and we shall achieve that goal with Kulinda.”

It is a system designed in Africa, for Africa. The labels for the Zanzibar program are printed in Kenya and Tanzania, while a company based in East Africa delivers the digital backbone for the programme.

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