Up to 50% of medicines in countries of the sahel are of substandard or falsified quality, alarms the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a report, published Tuesday, January 31, on the trafficking of medical products.
This UNODC report highlights five countries in this region of Africa: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, poor countries also confronted with multifaceted violence, including that of jihadists.
The drugs concerned are withdrawn from the supply chain from Europe and to a lesser extent from China and India. They often pass through seaports in Guinea, Ghana, Benin and Nigeria before being transported to the Sahel.
“Even if there are no reliable data on all the quantities trafficked in various forms and routes in the countries of the Sahel, studies indicate” a percentage of “substandard or falsified drugs on the market ranging from 19% to 50%”according to the ONDUC report.
In the Sahel and neighboring countries, “the high prevalence of infectious diseases such as malaria and the challenges in terms of availability and access to health care create an environment in which the demand for medical products and services is not fully met through formal channels”.
“Once a legitimate product is diverted from the supply chain, there is very little follow-up on how it should be used,” says François Patuel, head of UNODC’s research and outreach unit. “If you want to get an antibiotic on the market, you can have it without being sure it’s the right one. It needs to be controlled”, he said. According to him, these deficiencies contribute to microbial and malarial resistance.
Those who maintain this trade range from employees of pharmaceutical companies to street vendors and security guards. Armed groups are less involved in this trafficking.
“Despite the often-announced involvement of terrorist groups and non-state armed groups in drug trafficking in the Sahel, many cases listed show that it is limited and revolves around the consumption of these medical products and the taxes levied [sur ces produits] in areas under their control. and through which these drugs transit or arrive, explains the report.
Ineffective treatments linked to this trafficking of medical products reduce confidence in the health system and the government, the document states.