There may be a solution to Africa’s plague of fake medicine

Fake medications on sale in Africa. Photo source: CGTN (China)
Fake medications on sale in Africa. Photo source: CGTN (China)

Between 40 percent and 70 percent of all medicine sold in Africa is fake, but a crackdown on the illicit trade by the tiny West African nation of Benin is inspiring new action across the continent.

In fact, Benin’s capital of Cotonou was the site of a 2009 declaration in which a panoply of heads-of-state and other officials agreed to combat the scourge of fake medication, the trafficking of which in Africa is more lucrative than illegal drugs.

And the impacts of fake medication in Africa are terrible; the 2009 agreement noted, for example, that 200,000 people died annually from bunk anti-malarial drugs that didn’t actually combat the disease.

Bigger picture, reports the website Equal Times, fake meds that are sold for treating worms, fungus, high blood pressure and more can cause ulcers, kidney failures, hepatitis, and claim “several million” lives each year in Africa.

But in 2016, Benin got serious about the problem.

By 2017, the nationwide crackdown on the fake medicine supply chain resulted in the seizure of 88 tons of fake medication, the arrest of more than 100 traffickers, and the bust of highly placed officials.

This included a member of Benin’s Parliament whose home was being used to store hundreds of boxes of fake meds.

Their successes have been sufficient to inspire the cross-continental African Union to established the new African Medicines Agency, with a goal of replicating Benin’s results in other nations.

Sources: Equal Times (Belgium)

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