NAIROBI(AFP) – Some of Africa’s top singers warned against the dangers of taking counterfeit medications on Thursday as they helped launch an Interpol campaign against the practice prevalent on the continent.
Youssou N’Dour, the renowned musician from Senegal, and South Africa’s Yvonne Chaka Chaka are fronting the campaign that was kicked off in Nairobi.
“It is urgent to act in Africa as the situation is alarming,” Aline Plancon, head of Interpol’s pharmaceutical crimes unit, told reporters.
“Interpol has chosen an original way of raising awareness of the dangers for people, for patients, of taking these fake medicines, by teaming up with artists Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Youssou N’Dour,” she said.
Chaka Chaka, who attended the launch, said that people often did not realise the danger of taking counterfeit drugs.
“People need to be educated, they don’t know that these fake medicines are dangerous and can kill them,” she said.
“They don’t know that the medicines that are sold to them sometimes have defects. But if you tell someone who has malaria ‘if you take this medicine you will die’, he won’t do it,” she reasoned.
Up to 30 percent of medicines used in Africa are counterfeit, according to a 2006 World Health Organisation study.