Improved knowledge on substandard and falsified (SF) medical products through a dedicated course for pharmacy students at three universities in sub-Saharan Africa

Zuzana Kusynová, Youssra Bais, Hendrika A van den Ham*, Aukje K Mantel-Teeuwisse, Gisele Etame-Loe, Eliangiringa Kaale, Serigne Omar Sarr, Fatima Guiet-Mati, Pernette Bourdillon-Esteve

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Too few pharmacists receive formal training on substandard and falsified (SF) medical products. Strengthening knowledge across pharmacists is considered a moral and ethical duty of academia, that is, to build the health systems' capacities to combat this global health threat these poor-quality products represent. This study therefore aimed to evaluate whether a dedicated educational course for undergraduate pharmacy students can improve their knowledge on these products.

METHODS: A survey was conducted at three sub-Saharan universities. Knowledge was assessed through scores on a 20-point questionnaire with questions related to the course content. Scores were compared before and after the course, and a linear mixed-effects model analysis was used to analyse score differences. Students were furthermore asked for feedback and self-assessment. In addition, teachers were interviewed on the context of the course introduction. These data were analysed descriptively.

RESULTS: Among 335 out of 355 students who completed the survey (n=41/53 in Cameroon, n=244/252 in Senegal and n=50/50 in Tanzania), knowledge of SF medical products was enhanced, with increase in all countries, overall, by 3.5 (95% CI 3.1 to 3.9) score points. Students improved in all offered modules in each country. Students confirmed their improvement through self-assessment.The course was well received among students and teachers. Barriers included time constraints and access to practical means (equipment availability, room allocation, internet accessibility and affordability). These barriers can be overcome by key enablers such as the support from university leadership and early involvement of the university in the course design.

CONCLUSIONS: The course improved students' knowledge on SF medical products. These findings encourage further full implementation of this course in existing curricula beyond the pilot and can inform possible future scale-up. This has a potential for reinforcing the capacity of health systems to protect communities from SF medicines, by empowering all pharmacist across the health systems to intervene.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere009367
JournalBMJ Global Health
Issue number3 S
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2023


  • Health education and promotion
  • Health systems
  • Public Health


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