Chekkit, a Nigerian health startup designed to assist in the fight against counterfeit products, especially pharmaceutical drugs, has secured a partnership deal with Fantom Foundation in Afghanistan.
Founded in 2018 by Dare Odumade and Jide Asare, Chekkit uses anti-counterfeiting technology for supply chain tracking and consumer real-time feedback analytics. The company uses Unique ID labels – secured on the Ethereum blockchain network – and USSD or QR scanning to verify product authenticity and automate data entry.
Chekkit operates a B2B business model, helping companies in the food and drug business to track their supply chain integrity and protect their products from counterfeiting. So far, the company is operational in Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, where it offers other governments its services.
As its services help more companies to monitor their goods and products, and governments to fight counterfeit through the unique tamper-proof ID, Chekkit is exploring other markets beyond Africa, especially in countries with similar history of fraud and counterfeit products.
Chekkit’s Afghan partner Fantom, is a DAG-based smart contract platform with fast confirmation times. Their solution is built on Opera mainnet that provides fast and secure consensus capable of scaling to the high transactional throughput required to power a country’s entire healthcare system.
Africa and Asia are the continents with the highest rate of counterfeit products, and their respective governments have struggled to curtail it. Afghanistan, as one of the countries inflicted by the menace, is counting on the strategic public-private collaborations to curb counterfeit products, and the Chekkit-Fantom partnership has offered it.
“Over the years, we have seen several partnerships between progressive governments and innovative technology companies to tackle counterfeiting head-on, no holding back. A testament to the fact that a lot can be achieved with strategic public-private collaborations,” the partners said in a press statement.
With its record of hundreds of fake pharmaceutical businesses, Afghanistan is a country of interest for Chekkit services.
As of 2015, Afghanistan, with a population of 31 million, had a total of 450 foreign pharmaceutical suppliers registered with the health ministry. Compared to its neighbors, India which has a higher population of over 1.3 billion and only 100 foreign pharmaceuticals registered with the ministry of health, Afghanistan has an apparent problem of illicit pharmaceutical operators.
Consequently, the country’s Ministry of Public Health has signed a MoU with Fantom and Chekkit to help tackle the menace of counterfeit drugs using analytics and blockchain technology. The project, which begins in a 3-month pilot phase, will utilize Chekkit’s product authentication technology to track and verify all drugs sold in Afghanistan.
The Chekkit-Fantom partnership was initiated in November 2019, during the AfricArena Summit held in South Africa, where Chekkit was among the top three participants.
“Fantom was already in conversation with the Afghan Ministry of Health and brought Chekkit into discussion because our solution was advanced enough to tackle the Afghan counterfeit problem and the fact that Chekkit’s solution was built to work perfectly in developing countries was a huge plus as well. The partnership sees Chekkit’s solution deployed on Fantom’s DAG blockchain network,” the partners said.
The project will be executed through various means of checks and authentication in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, drug manufacturers and consumers.
Chekkit said each product will be labeled with a unique QR code generated through it software which contains information on each product like its authenticity, manufacturing date, expiry date, FDA number, manufacturer, distributor etc.
Afghan public can verify the authenticity of drugs by scratching Chekkit’s label to reveal the company’s QR code, which they can scan using the Chekkit’s app to confirm the authenticity of the product. The company said it has deployed a loyalty/reward system to encourage verification.
As part of its collaboration with the Afghan health ministry, Chekkit has provided special hand-held devices that they can use to verify the authenticity of products at the point of entries into the country.
Odumade says he is hoping that the double focus strategy of the project will make it “extremely difficult for counterfeiter to thrive” and at the end of the pilot phase, there will be deployment of Chekkit’s technology across board.
“Through this partnership, we will provide the pharma companies involved with valuable consumer insights and a reward program to encourage purchase and verification by buyers, as well as give the government/ministry a transparent view of the pharmaceutical market.
“On completion of a successful pilot, we envisage our technology being deployed across the board for all meds coming into Afghanistan.
“Finally, we will also deploy a supply chain tracking solution that offers 360-degree protection against counterfeiting. We plan that the supply chain tracking will be implemented in collaboration with manufacturers, distributors, and retailers,” he said.