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Fake Medicines Kill Almost 500,000 in Sub-Saharan Africa Annually, UN Reveals

CC0 / / Antibiotics
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The lack of access to quality healthcare and medicines remains one of the major problems for sub-Saharan African countries today. Moreover, another issue lurks behind this – counterfeit medicines.
Fake medicines have become the cause of nearly 500,000 deaths annually in Africa, the UN has claimed.
On Thursday, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a report assessing the number of deaths due to counterfeit medicines.
It says approximately 267,000 people died because of falsified and substandard antimalarial medicines, with up to 169,271 people passing away due to use of falsified and substandard antibiotics.
The gap between the demand for and supply of medicines needed to cure diseases widely spread in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa reportedly creates a lot of space for trafficking counterfeit medicines, which threatens public health and safety in the region.
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Only between January 2017 and December 2021, over 605 tons of fake medical products were seized by authorities in West Africa.
Surprisingly, according to the UNODC investigation, the involvement of terrorist groups in fake medicines trafficking is limited. It says traffickers also include pharmaceutical company employees, public officials, law enforcement officers, health agency workers and street vendors.
The researchers made a number of recommendations to prevent – or at least reduce – fake medicines trafficking. These include strengthening cross-border cooperation, establishing efficient information-sharing systems, and revising outdated legislation concerning medical products trafficked to African countries.
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