'Malaria is not going away because we are getting fake treatment'

From Global development | The Guardian Sun Dec 23 2012, 16:32:35

China suspected as source of counterfeit drugs that are holding back fight against malaria in Africa

The life-saving medicine arrives on cargo trucks and in suitcases, crossing borders to be put on sale in pharmacies, shops and hospitals. There is just one problem: it isn't life-saving at all.

To look at the packaging, you would never know. It is usually a dead ringer for the real thing. Only on closer inspection will you find a watermark missing or notice the crumbling edges of a tablet that to well-trained inspectors can be the telltale signs of fakery. Even health professionals are routinely fooled.

"I have taken them myself," said Dr Mechtlida Luhaga, who has been both doctor and patient in Africa's long battle against malaria. "I took Alu and nothing happened. I had another blood test to recheck and still had the same parasites. The drugs were fake."

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