African Press International (API)

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Senegal: Pharmacists strike over fake drugs

Posted by African Press International on May 5, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.nation.ke

story by Hamadou Tidiane Sy.

Dakar (Senegal) – The Union of Senegalese Private Pharmacists on Thursday called a seven-hour general strike – from 8 am to 3 pm- to protest against the illegal sale of drugs and increasing attacks on their businesses.

The strike, the first to be called by the union, was widely heeded, with most pharmacies across the country remaining closed, observers said. Illegal sale of drugs is widespread in West Africa, and Senegal is no exception. Medical experts say that drugs sold in these parallel markets in Senegal are worth more than $23.7 million (Sh1.4b) a year. According to the pharmacists, tough action needs to be taken and these illegal sales stopped for both health and economic reasons.

In the heart of the capital, Dakar, for instance, is a compound known as Keur Serigne-bi, where tens of traders illegal sell anything, from aspirin tablets to prescription drugs. The same is done by hundreds of street vendors with no qualification or licence throughout the country. “With its rapid expansion, Touba (a religious city in the centre of Senegal) is fast becoming a major concern,” the union’s deputy chairman, Alioune Kane, said, adding that the problem needed to be dealt with more seriously by the government. .

Some people in Dakar believe that influential people are involved in the parallel drug business, which could make it difficult to eradicate. “Any medicine is dangerous, so our action is also because we are protectors of public health”, Mr Kane told the Nation in Dakar. According to Mr Kane, medical doctors in the country are diagnosing more and more cases of “unknown” or “inexplicable” cases in the country, which might be linked to uncontrolled use of medicine bought from the streets.

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African Press International – api

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