Silent Somali warlords

By: Awes Sh. Muheidin Amin

Somalia is a country which has been without a functional government for the last 15 years. Unfortunately, the country is controlled by armed militia headed by warlords, who are responsible for death of thousands of innocent people directly and indirectly, and enormous numbers of people are maimed and others have been forced to flee to other African countries and became refugees. These warlords and their names and whereabouts are well known, and I believe one day they will pay their price through man-made judiciary system or in the judgement day.

The on-going civil strife has also resulted in other serious problems in Somalia, and includes: - total collapse of social infrastructure, (education, health, communication, potable water supply systems, etc.) lack of judiciary system/law and order, and serious environmental and social/economic problems that are severely affecting the wellbeing of our community and country in general.

As a matter of fact the armed warlords are major factors that contributed to these problems but there are also silent Somali warlords who are responsible for the deaths and suffering of a large number of people in Somalia. These silent warlords are so called businessmen/women, who import fake medicines and unsafe/unsuitable food from overseas (Asia, Africa and Europe) and distribute and sell them openly in markets of Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia and other towns in Somalia. These people are greedy, self-centred, cold hearted criminals without consciences are killing their own people with fake medicines and unsafe food.

90 percent of drugs in the country's hospitals, clinics and pharmacies are fake products. Lured by big profits many businessmen/women switched from other business to the illicit trade in fake medicine just to be wealthy themselves, embracing an ignorant perspective and greediness. There is no legal action taking place to protect the innocent citizens of that poor country. Thousands and thousands of Somalis died as a result of fake medicines and food poisoning from unsafe/unsuitable food for human consumption.

The problem is at a critical point, with innocent citizens unaware that Somalia has became a dumping site for fake medicines and unsafe foods that are mostly manufactured in Asia and Africa, countries that all too often do not respect human rights and equal life status and dignity. We are all fully cooked human beings need to treat each other with respect. The fake medicines don't even comply with international standard requirements for labelling, no expire date, no manufacturer name and address, and no ingredients. These omissions are quite deliberate and kill innocents and have-nots (the poor).

Often the counterfeit medicines are very difficult to distinguish from the original medicines as the packages look fine. It's easy to produce fake medicines. In some instances flour, chalk, or other powder substances has been put into capsules and passed off as medicine, and some imported medicines are genuine but out of expire date/use by date with a forged label. In addition to this, many internationally banned medicines, such as Novalgin, Analgin, Femidol, Tendril etc, and highly potential habit forming drugs (ephedrine, diazepam) are still flooding into Somalia, and sold in the markets, pharmacies, and groceries without medical prescription.

The fake medicine represents the cause for a large number of people who are suffering and some cases dying as a result of it. "A lot of deaths could be avoided if the drugs being used were not substandard counterfeits" according to Dr Dora Akunyili, director general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria. Deaths linked to phoney medicines and unsafe foods are on increase in Somalia, and unfortunately at this stage there are no authorities or regulations to govern the hideous industry.

In Somalia, most of the social infrastructures are totally collapsed. There is no quality control system or laboratories for analysis of food, medicine and other products. The World Health Organisation authorities and other international organisations (governmental and non-governmental) and national institutions are aware of this serious issue but they can not do much in a country where the law of the gun prevails.

It's dismaying and outrageous that people are killing their own people for their own personal interests; therefore, we should put our heads together and find a suitable solution to safeguard the lives of many innocent Somalis dying and suffering through consumption of fake medicines and unsafe food stuffs.

The issue of fake drugs became has became a global problem, and many international governments are struggling and fighting to crack down. Overcoming this devastating problem requires huge human/material resources and institutions to be implemented, which Somalia lacks today.

I believe that formation of a national Somali agency charged with the responsibility of formulating regulations and compiling standard specification for compliance by manufacturers, importers and exporters of regulated products can play a vital role in the solution. It's also important to obtain international collaboration, especially from countries, where products are manufactured or imported, and products should be analysed and certified before shipment to Somalia.

We urge members of the Somali community to be vigilant and thoroughly check drugs, food stuffs, and other products before taking or consuming, and we would like to advise the Somali government (current/future government) not to focus only on the armed warlords, they should also target and get rid of the silent Somali warlords……criminals.

We would also like to notify the Somali silent warlords (the so-called businessmen/women) to stop manufacturing, trading and importing fake drugs and unsafe products.

Finally we appeal to international countries and organisations (governmental and non-governmental) to help and protect Somali people from health hazardous products, (fake drugs, unsafe food stuffs and products) that are seriously affecting the health and wellbeing of the community.