Wholesale Murder of Africans 158

Of 110 containers of pharmaceuticals entering West Africa searched in a special operation coordinated by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), 84 were found to contain fake pharmaceuticals. 82 million doses of fake medicine were confiscated which included anti-malarial and anti-HIV drugs and antibiotics.

Here in sub-Saharan Africa, over two children die every minute of malaria – which in 98% of cases can be cured with US $6 worth of genuine drugs. A spokesman for the WCO on BBC World Service radio last night said that the number of deaths caused directly by counterfeit medicine in Africa every year was in the hundreds of thousands. He called it “genocide”.

I might not use that word, but it is beyond doubt true that supplying counterfeit drugs to Africa causes more deaths than narcotics, than the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East combined, and several hundred times more deaths than terrorism.

The supply of fake life-saving drugs to the world’s poorest people is not only on a far greater scale than terrorism, it is morally just as evil, killing innocent civilian populations, particularly children, on an unimaginable scale of slaughter.

So why does this terrible evil receive virtually no mainstream media exposure? Is it because it happens to Africans, and the media coverage of Africa is so negative and relentlessly concentrated on disaster that it leads to a perception that the natural state of Africans is to die of disease?

It is worth noting that this terrible crime is being committed against Africa from outside – almost none of the fake pharmaceuticals are made in Africa. Here in Ghana I know the good people at the Food and Drugs Administration; they are well organised, well-qualified and well-equipped. But they are fighting a huge tide of fake drugs and organised crime on a massive scale.

In Ghana the fake drugs come overwhelngly from China amd India, and I suspect that is true across the BRICS. This terrible dark side – the WCO estimates that the counterfeit drugs trade yields profits of US$9 billion a year – should be borne in mind when considering the success of the BRICS and their possible counterweight to Western influence in foreign affairs.

India and China have vastly more economic resources and greater government control than the African states whose people are the victims of this evil trade. The word “genocide” used by the WCO spokesman causes you to think in this case, because this is mass killing perpetrated by Asians against Africans. The exporting states must face up to their moral obligation to take responsibility for the quality control of the manufacture of their exports, and in particular for controls at ports to ensure fake drugs are not exported.

The United Nations and the World Health Organisation should take action to ensure that the xporting state has a legal obligation effectively to stop the export of counterfeit drugs, with effective redress for victim states against the exporting state.

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158 thoughts on “Wholesale Murder of Africans

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  • Kempe

    Some people have short memories:-


    This is something that affects, or could affect, everybody here. Africa’s problem is that the safeguards and checks we rely on to keep us safe have either been destroyed by corruption or were never there in the first place. It’s too often left to western centred NGO’s to police; certainly I think the authorities in India and China could be doing a lot more to stamp out this dreadful trade too.

    Counterfeit or fake would you really want to swallow something that had been knocked up in some filthy back-street workshop; even if it did contain the right ingredients?

  • Mochyn69

    28 Oct, 2012 – 11:47 am

    I have it on good authority that whilst many other blogs, wordpress sites, etc. etc. cannot be accessed from within the Middle Kingdom, CM’s blog is always freely available!

  • AlexT

    Somewhat tangential to this story but I muss confess it’s the first time I’ve heard of the World Customs Organisation. And I’m not sure I like the concept, although in this case their intervention seems perfectly adequate.

  • Daniel Munro

    What does fake mean in this context? Not the chemical it puports to be? Or does it mean not manufactured by the patent holder?

    From the press release: “During the course of the Operation, Customs officers on the ground used IPM (Interface Public Member), a tool developed by the WCO to enhance the ability of officials to identify counterfeit goods by accessing key information provided by right holders.”

    This suggests that there has been no chemical testing.

    Of the 82 million doses how many were chemically the correct medicine and have now been confiscated and disposed of?

    Are the people accusing others of genocide actualy culpable themselves?

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Mr Murray
    You raised very serious and indeed important issue here. It reminds me how in the end of 1980th and beginning of 1990 fake drugs appeared in large numbers in Tashkent and other soviet towns. I recall conversations with doctors and pharmacists about people having some serious health issues from fake drugs and with lethal end in some cases. Those were the times of perestroika and weak governments in the beginning of post soviet independence. Most of fake drugs were not imported but produced locally, in the basements or rented small factories (cooperatives as they were called at those times).
    Corruption was the main reason of these fake drugs. Local inspectors were paid off, local police and other supervisory authorities were also paid off. Fake drugs market was huge as perestroika was followed by collapse of USSR and stagnation of industries including pharmaceutical. Only when problem became so serious that government got concerned with it, fake drugs disappeared.
    There might be certain true in blaming governments in India, China and elsewhere but the most serious failure is by African governments. If they are incapable of stopping fake drugs from entering their borders then it is unlikely that anything can be done to stop fake drugs appear in African markets. Even if China and India crack down on their fake drugs manufacturers (which is very unlikely) they can still be produced locally.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    I might sound harsh but it seems you know less about China and Chinese government than I previously thought.
    Contrary to your argument I say it would be very much in the interests of Chinese government to supply fake drugs (not that I am saying that they are doing it) to Africa. Chinese population is well over 1.3 billion and despite growing urbanisation over 700 million of Chinese still live in rural areas, which comparing to big cities in China, are no different from rural areas in Cambodia or even rural areas in Africa. If you follow Chinese government policies in Xinjang you might have better understanding of meaning of Chinese policy of resettlement. I am not saying that Chinese government is already openly employing this policy in Africa but in long term this might be quite ‘interesting’ and ‘productive’ solution to problems or rural unemployment and over urbanisation in China.
    As for India the same is being done towards Muslim population. Nothing new here. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that Indian government is supplying fake drugs to Muslims in India, but quite openly supplying Muslims with sores quality of goods, underdeveloping Muslim regions and keeping their eyes shut on multiple abuses and killing of Muslims in various Indian cities and villages.
    It concerns me that so much attention on this blog is paid (and quite deservingly) to the problems of atrocities committed toward Muslims by western governments BUT almost NO attention whatsoever is paid to the atrocities committed toward Muslims in either China, India or Russia.
    African soil rich with minerals could be very valuable target to Asian economic giants, and some local inhabitants should not be a problem especially if “right measures” preemptively employed. After all this issue (local population) did not stop westerners from benefiting on richness of African soil, did it? Why then should in stop emerging Asian economic giants from benefiting from Africa?

  • Komodo

    Uzbek, it’s an interesting idea. I think its applicability depends on whether the Chinese government continues on the path of a globalised mixed economy (which has already raised the standard of living for millions of Chinese) or reverts to total state control. Even so, China has historically tended to keep its empire contiguous rather than going thousands of miles in search of lebensraum. It’s after resources, not administrative nightmares. And poisoning the sick does nothing whatever about the healthy inhabitants.

    I think the reason some of us get exercised about atrocities and wars in the ME is that they are by US and represented as being conducted on OUR behalf, and without our consent. And, face it, there’s so much shit going on, you can only hope to keep in touch with a small part of it. but I’m sorry.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Reverse of China to total state control is impossible for many reasons. China today sends over 20 thousands students abroad (mostly to English speaking universities) to study various disciplines including business and economics.
    It seems that China tended to isolate itself but on the other hand they have expanded to Eastern Turkestan today’s Xinjang which was populated by Muslims who are decending to minority today, thanks to Beijing’s re-settlement programme. Something I fear might go further beyond Xinjang in future. If you are seriously interested in understanding how China deals with those who are weaker than they, you are very welcome to visit either Xinjang or eastern Kazakhstan or eastern Kyrgyzstan.
    Poisoning sick does nothing to healthy but as far as Mr Murray stated fake medication of different kind are imported to Africa and not only those which treat specific illnesses. Antibiotics for instances are used by everyone at least once during lifetime. Fake antibiotics could kill people who are generally healthily but happened to get sick possibly once in their lifetime.
    The argument about wars being waged by US and the west on YOUR behalf and without YOUR consent is nonsense. You (unlike my fellow uzbek citizens) have right to elect government. DO elect a government that will NOT wage wars on YOUR behalf without asking YOUR consent first.
    When China and Russia are considered as good guys just because they oppose US who is waging wars in ME without YOUR consent and ignoring the fact that over 40 million Muslims in China and Russia and over 200 million Muslims in India are treated 2nd class citizens looks like hypocrisy to me.

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