Vatican raises alert over fake drugs sold in Africa

Archbishop Zimowski

Archbishop Zimowski

As many as 50 percent of medicines sold in Africa could be fake, according to the president of the Vatican's health care council.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, affirmed this at a conference of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists. The four-day meeting ended  on Monday in Poznan, Poland. It focused on ethics and awareness for pharmacists in the field of medicine security.

The Catholic Information Service Africa, (CISA)  reports that Archbishop Zimowski's denunciation took up statistics from the World Health Organization. Unofficial sources cited by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano on the conference contended that in some African nations, actually as many as 60 percent of medications are fake.

The World Health Organization contends that in regions of Southeast Asia and Latin America, as many as 30 percent of medicines could be fake.

Archbishop Zimowski said: "The manipulation and falsification of medicines,primarily affects children. Fake antibiotics and fake vaccinations cause grave harm to their health."

"There are many deaths because of respiratory illnesses among African children, because they are treated with false antibiotics that don't have an active ingredient, but which are sold at high prices," he said.

Citing Pope Benedict’s encyclical ‘Caritas in Veritate’, the archbishop affirmed that counterfeit medication is an ethical emergency in developing countries.

He invited Catholic pharmacists to "courageously denounce every form of falsification and counterfeiting of medicine, and oppose its distribution."

The Archbishop said the children who are victimized by this situation "let out a silent scream of suffering that tugs at our consciences" as persons, whether or not we are believers.

Source: CISA