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Surviving through trafficking illicit medication in Africa
In October 2009, former French President Jacques Chirac, surrounded by the Presidents of Benin and Burkina Faso, issued the Appeal of Cotonou against false and past its use-by-date medication. The stakes were high: eradicate in Africa the illicit production, traffic and commerce of false medication and provide access to quality Health Care to everybody. Several years after the public appeal against this plague, what are the results? We shall try to understand it by diving into the daily life of a young Beninese mother of 35 years, Ramatou, who goes twice a month to nearby Nigeria buying medication on one of the many markets of Lagos. In doing so, she takes major risks because this country is considered the most dangerous of this region. But it is worth the candle according to her, because by reselling these illicit medicines on the markets of Benin, she will earn enough money to feed her family. So, every day, in the heart of the buzzing market of Dantokpa, she offers her “medicines”, advises her customers’, holding her small affair as well as she can to resist the intense competition. By following her closely in her professional activities, we shall also have the opportunity to meet other players in conjunction with health issues: pharmacists, traditional healers, doctors and other patients… And learn more, by their observation, about prevailing customs and practices related to the issue of Health in Africa. In doing so, we gain valuable knowledge about the actual realities underlying the access to medication for all. One thing is already sure, and can only convince of the utility of this documentary: for lack of anything better, the majority of Africans continue to use false and past their use-by-date medication. While nobody ignores the dangers these “consumers” are taking, everybody is forced to see that Africans continue to be the first victims of this ravage.