China's health aid in Africa leads to flood of fake drugs

At The Pulitzer Center website, a feature on the work of investigative journalist Kathleen E. McLaughlin, an American reporter working in Africa whose current work focuses on how China’s health programs, hospitals and medical teams in Africa affect the health landscape. While they do "provide access to life-saving drugs, vaccines and medical care," supply chain problems affect the patient population negatively. One of the biggest problems? Fake drugs, which can in fact kill people.

Focussing on fake malaria pills, Kathleen McLaughlin traveled to Tanzania and Uganda, two of the countries worst-plagued by the parasite, given their borders on Great Lake Victoria – the world's second-largest lake and home to some of the world's deadliest mosquitoes. The fake pills are, quite simply, everywhere. Nearly everyone has a story about fake medications, mostly malaria pills. Because government hospitals are overloaded and corruption makes drugs go missing from official supplies, thousands of people turn to the local pharmacy and buy potentially life-saving drugs when they get the hallmark malarial fever. But in many cases – up to one third of the time – those drugs are fake. The parasite lives on and, when the drugs contain half-strength of partial active ingredients, the parasite can potentially become resistant to real treatment.

More here.