Africa hamstrung through a deadly flood of fake medicine

Togolese Hievi thought he was set to recover when he began taking pills prescribed by his doctor. He could recover from typhoid and malaria after taking fake medicine.

But away from curing him, the medication they gave him at the facility made him worse. The medicine ultimately made him lose one of his kidneys.

The capsules were fake.

“After four days of care, there used to be no improvement. However, I started to sense pain in my belly,” Hievi, 52, told AFP.


After suffering for two weeks, he could not walk. They rushed him to the university medical institution in the West African nation’s capital Lome.

Now, over four years later, he stays disabled with the aid of persistent kidney failure and has to go to the clinic for dialysis regularly.

Weak legislation, corrupt healthcare systems

Hievi’s horror story is a long way from unique in a continent awash with counterfeit medicines.

The World Health Organization estimated that every year some a hundred thousand people throughout Africa die from taking “falsified” medication.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated that one hundred and twenty-two thousand youths under five died because of taking poor-quality anti-malarial drugs in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015.

Weak legislation, corrupt healthcare systems, and tremendous poverty have encouraged the boom of this parallel – and deadly market.

Long story short, given that 2013, Africa has made up 42% of the faux medicine seized worldwide.

The two capsules most probably to be out-of-date, ineffective copies are antibiotics and antimalarials, say experts.

And bogus pills now not only pose a risk to the affected person – they additionally play a worrying part in building resistance to quintessential frontline medications.

Difficult to trace the origin

To handle the scourge, presidents from seven countries – the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Gambia, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda – meet Friday in Lome to sign an agreement for criminalizing trafficking in faux drugs.

Even if leaders write, stamping out the flow of counterfeit medicinal drugs is enormous.

Medicines unfold out on plastic sheets or presented at ramshackle stalls are for sale at markets across West Africa.

“It is very difficult to trace the place the pretend drugs come from,” said Dr. Innocent Kounde Kpeto. Dr. Innocent is the president of Togo’s pharmacist association.

It is estimated that approximately 60% of medicine sold in Africa is faux. Kpeto said most of it comes from India or China.

In November, the police in Ivory Coast made a reported seizure of 200 tonnes in Abidjan and arrested four suspects along with Chinese nationals.

Togo is one country trying to give up the flow.

It changed the regulation in 2015, and now traffickers can face 20 years in prison and a fine of some $85 000.

In a show of pressure in July, the authorities burnt over 67 tonnes of counterfeit pharmaceuticals discovered in Nigeria. Nigeria is the number one destination on the continent for faux drugs.  This is because it is  Africa’s most populous country with a market of 200 million people.

World Customs Organization seized tens of millions of pretend drugs and medicines at sixteen ports around Africa in September 2016: 35% is for Nigeria.


People die because of fake Medicine.


Across the various nation, there are tens of lots of carriers promoting counterfeits drugs.

Competition between traffickers is fierce, and the official corporation intended to fight the problem is overwhelmed.

In a bid to improve the situation, Vivian Nwakah founded in 2017 start-up Medsaf and raised $1.4m to assist Nigerians to track their medicine from producer to the user.

Medsaf works to ensure the first-rate manipulate of heaps of merchandise at over a hundred thirty hospitals and pharmacies in Nigeria. It appears ahead to expanding deeper into Nigeria as well as Ivory Coast and Senegal.

The organization makes use of technology, database administration, and analytics to screen the movement of medicines and verifies their legitimate registration number, the expiry dates, and storage conditions.

“Technology we use can help to clear up most of the problems related to fake drugs,” Nwakah said.

“People die for nothing. We can change that.

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