By Mei Jingya, Sina English
The West has always enjoyed pointing fingers at China’s role in Africa. In the latest instance, British newspaper the Guardian blamed counterfeit medicine from China for malaria spread in the continent.
According to the Guardian report, 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. Doctor Mechtlida Luhaga from Tanzania told the paper she has taken the medicine herself and nothing happened. She had another blood test to recheck and still had the same parasites. “The drugs were fake,” she said.
Statistics show Tanzania and Uganda are the countries with the highest number of malaria cases in the world. Here everyone knows about fake and substandard drugs. Most people know at least someone who has taken them. The overwhelming suspicion is that they, like poor quality mobile phones and cheap clothing, come from China.
David Nahamya, the chief drug inspector for Uganda's National Drug Authority, told the Guardian besides malaria druges, there are fake antibiotics and even emergency contraceptives.
“China is entering into the African market with everything … I think you have seen their strategy in so many of our sectors. To bring in as many of their own products as possible, in every possible level of quality, and take over." He was quoted as saying.
But he also admitted that the problem of fake products also plagues factories in Africa. A World Bank health expert said India and China, main exporters of drugs, have stepped up oversight.
A Global Times reporter who has traveled across Africa said it’s completely unjustifiable to claim China as the source of counterfeit drugs. Unlike other medicines, malaria drugs are all purchased by the World Health Organization, then sent to different countries. All the drugs were certified by both the WHO and relevant authorities of the target countries.
At present, most malaria drugs sold in Africa come from China and they are all of top quality. All artemisinin-based malaria drugs in Africa are Chinese made. The Global Times reporter said counterfeit drugs may be smuggled into these countries due to corruption chain and loose regulations.