Theft of Pharmaceuticals A Major Problem in Africa

The theft of pharmaceuticals is leading to the creation of a black market for anti-malaria drugs in Africa, according to Willis Akhwale of the Kenyan Ministry of Health.

Akhwale originally told the Wall Street Journal about the problem in 2005, but he says the problem remains five years later. Often times, government stores of badly-needed medication are looted in East Africa, leaving those who need the drugs forced to make risky decisions that might cause them to take counterfeit drugs.

According to the news source, the problem is particularly bad in Tanzania, where tens of thousands of drugs are stolen and sold throughout the rest of Africa. Often times it is drugs that are nearly expired that are looted.

Bate says that often times drugs that have been donated by charitable organizations are stolen before they even arrive at their intended destination, depriving those who need the medicine of proper care.

The theft of pharmaceuticals poses many dangers as thieves typically are unconcerned with storing and handling the drugs properly, which can affect the drugs efficacy.