Afghanistan’s healthcare ministry and several local pharmaceutical companies will use Fantom’s blockchain to combat counterfeit drugs.

According to Fantom on July 6, its Opera blockchain will be used to track 80,000 units of four different pharmaceutical products in Afghanistan. After this initial pilot, the system will be scaled up to cover more products later this year. 

50,000 units of hand sanitizer, 10,000 joint creams, 10,000 Kofol tablets and 10,000 Dioacare foot creams will be tracked during the pilot. The system is meant to address Afghanistan’s problem with counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Fantom stated that local law enforcement seized 100 tons of counterfeit, outdated or substandard medicine in 2017. By tracking the products on-chain, the firm hopes to create an immutable audit trail that ensures the items are not tampered with along their movement along the supply chain.

An auditable supply chain record

The tracked products will have a shipping label that is scanned at each stage of the distribution process. Each time the label is scanned, a hash of the product name, batch number, expiration date and other details will be timestamped and saved on the blockchain.

A hash is a non-reversible mathematical function that generates an alphanumeric string that does not contain the data but allows individuals to verify whether the data provided is the same as that from which the hash is calculated. 

Afghanistan will use blockchain for healthcare record management

The pilot is a result of a collaboration between blockchain firm Fantom and Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health and pharmaceutical firms Bliss GVS, Royal Star and Nabros Pharma. Fantom’s will also create a blockchain-based hospital medical record management system for the health ministry. Fantom chief information officer Michael Kong told Cointelegraph:

“The upcoming health record management system, utilizing our blockchain technology, should force entries into the system to be done correctly in the first place, and should keep malicious actors accountable for wrongful entries. The biggest problem in developing countries is identifying where the problem is and having solid proof to enforce upon, rather than the actual health record management systems themselves.”

Fantom's director of business development Bariq Sekandari played a key role in establishing a partnership with the Afghan government. He pushed for the establishment of an office in the region and hired a local team to establish synergies with the government. The collaboration was first announced at the end of November 2019, when the Afghan Ministry of Public Health signed a memorandum of understanding with Fantom.

Kong and Sekandari told Cointelegraph that Fantom is also in talks with several other government agencies, but can't share the details yet.