In the summer of 2022, 70 Gambian babies and young children died from kidney failure after ingesting cough syrup spooned out by their caregivers. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert that four tainted paediatric products had originated in India, as local health authorities continue to investigate how this tragedy unfolded.
This feature, which focuses on the illegal trade in substandard and fake medicines, is part of a UN News series exploring the fight against trafficking in the Sahel.
From ineffective hand sanitizer to fake antimalarial pills, an illicit trade that grew during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 is being meticulously dismantled by the UN and partner countries in Africa’s Sahel region.
Substandard or fake medicines, like contraband baby cough syrup, are killing almost half a million sub-Saharan Africans every year, according to a threat assessment report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The report explains how nations in the Sahel, a…