Mumbai: In a shocking study published in medical journal, The Lancet, scientists have found that one-third of malaria medicines in South East Asia and Africa are either fake or of poor quality. What is even worse is that a majority of these fake medicines are being manufactured in India and China.
According to teh World Health Organisation (WHO), 2,500 people die worldwide every day of malaria. The Lancet study says 7 per cent of anti-malarial drugs in India are counterfeit.
With no vaccine in sight for the deadly disease, even after 30 years of research, the question is how grave is this issue.
Dr Joel Breman, Co-author of the study, said, "The problem is very real, one-third is an absolutely shocking number. Drugs are the main strategy, we have to control and one day eliminate malaria. Some of these drugs are used for prevention measures in pregnant women and kids."
According to the latest World Malaria Report, 70 per cent of India's population faces the risk of getting malaria and fake, poor quality medicines could spell doom for India's fight against the deadly disease.
Dr Khusrav Bajan, Intensivist, Hinduja Hospital, said, "WHO says that 20 per cent of all global malarial deaths are because of fake drugs. The consequences can be multifold. It can be fatal for a patient who has it, because the drug will not be able to curb the disease. Drug resistance increases and then for travellers and pregnant women, who take anti-malarials as preventives, it will not work and expose them to high risk of malaria."
This could just be the tip of the iceberg. The lead author of the study says, a majority of these fake drugs are made in India and China and then smuggled in South East Asia. Scientists insist production and distribution of fake malaria medicines should be prosecuted as a crime against humanity.