An ECOWAS project, ‘Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking,’ has revealed that illicit and counterfeit medical products from China and India are flooding drug markets in Nigeria and other West African countries. The study found that these illegal drugs often enter through ports in Apapa, Tema, Cotonou, and Conakry.
The report estimates that up to 80% of Burkina Faso and Guinea medical products are illicit. It also states that smuggled medical products makeup between 20% and 60% of the formal market across the West African region.
The research involved over 60 interviews and four focus group discussions. It included international organisations, national authorities, civil society groups, and public and private experts.
The UN agency reported that counterfeit medical products in West Africa are worth about $1 billion. This exceeds the combined value of the crude oil and cocaine trafficking markets.
The ECOWAS report on the influx of illicit and counterfeit drugs from China and India into Nigeria is a wake-up call for regulatory bodies and the government. The report not only exposes the extent of the problem but also highlights the urgent need for stringent measures to curb this menace.
The high percentage of illicit drugs in the market is alarming. It poses a significant risk to public health and undermines the credibility of the healthcare system.
The involvement of ports in Apapa, Tema, Cotonou, and Conakry as entry points for these illegal drugs raises questions about the effectiveness of customs and border controls. Are these agencies doing enough to stem the tide of counterfeit drugs?
The report also calls into question the role of international organisations and national authorities. What steps are being taken to address this issue at regional and global levels?
Did You Know?
- ECOWAS, or the Economic Community of West African States, was established in 1975 to foster economic integration among 15 West African countries.
- Apapa is one of Nigeria’s foremost commercial ports located in Lagos.
- Counterfeit drugs are a global issue, with an estimated market value between $200 billion and $431 billion worldwide.
- According to the World Health Organization, one in every ten products sold in low- and middle-income countries is either substandard or falsified.
- The International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines estimates that the turnover of the counterfeit medical products market is 20 times that of the heroin market.