Malian authorities achieve positive results in the fight against fraudulent medicine and drugs
In recent years, West Africa has become an increasingly important transit and consumption hub for international drug trafficking. The porosity of borders in the region allows traffickers to smuggle large amounts of drugs and medicines in the region without them being approved by the competent state authorities. Due to a lack of public and accessible health care services, medicine is often bought without any prescription on the streets. Those fraudulent medicines are often cheaper than those bought in drugstores and pose a real danger for its consumers as it is not clear what are the exact substances that are prescribed and if they match with the symptoms of the patient at all.
With the support of UNODC, Malian institutions such as the Central Office for Narcotics (OCS) and the Mobile Intervention Brigade (BMI) achieved positive results in their fight against fraudulent medicine and drugs: For the past 3 years, the total amount of seized fraudulent medicine by the BMI adds up to 19.88 tons. In 2018 alone, 1,8 tons were seized (by the BMI) while the amount in 2017 alone is 9,6 tons representing over 7 million pills.
"We are really concerned by the rising spread of fraudulent medicines in the region. It is important to combat the trafficking of fraudulent medicines and drugs in the region to improve public health but also to fight terrorism. It is a fact that transnational organized crime is often linked to the financing of terrorist activities and it is UNODC's mission to support the fight against any illicit traffic to efficiently combat crime and terrorism in the region." states Pierre Lapaque, Regional representative of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime in West and Central Africa.
On 28 February 2018, the teams in charge of cargo at Bamako airport, seized4,650kg of methamphetamine to be transported to Malaysia via France by a Nigerian national. On 9 March 2018, the OCS [the "Office Central des Stupéfiants"-Mali's centralized drug control institution] arrested a Guinean national carrying 170 cartons of Tramadol containing 70,000 tablets. The suspect was presented to the prosecutor for trafficking in illegal substances on 12 March 2018. This seizure comes less than three months after the UNODC sounded the alarm on the increase in trafficking and consumption of tramadol and its security and health implications.
The traffic of illicit and fraudulent medicaments represents a severe threat to public health as they can cause irreversible damages or even kill patients. The WHO confirms that "the overall death toll attributable to counterfeit medicines, like the scale of the business, is unknown but the costs to public health are huge. Quite apart from the direct impact on individuals, counterfeits can cause resistance to medicines for tackling diseases that are leading causes of mortality. Malaria, which kills around a million people a year, is a prime example."
UNODC supports Malian authorities through several training courses on general knowledge on drugs and dissimulation methods of traffickers. In addition to control operations, Malian authorities in charge of drug-related crime also conduct awareness-raising activities, such as a workshop organized to sensitize investigative journalists in partnership with UNODC.
As part of its Sahel Programme, UNODC continues to implement activities in Mali to strengthen the capacity of Malian authorities to combat transnational organized crime.