#Fakemeds seized in Le Havre in May 2013 were hidden in sachets of tea
Staff at Radio Health International
I am Embele Patience Fominyen, Station Manager of Radio Health International for the past 4 years. I have always loved social work and had a perfect opportunity to blend this with communication, which I studied at university. Health themed radio is a new concept in Central Africa where there is a great need for this information, as health issues continue to kill millions every year.
Cameroon is a developing country and poverty is an issue. There are times when demand for medicines exceeds supply and there is a constant infiltration of fake medicines into the country. Access to a doctor can be difficult and costly so people tend to self-medicate with illegal and counterfeit drugs because they appear cheaper and more easily available. The result is an unending cycle of poisoning and death of many Cameroonians who are simply in need of a cure for an illness.
Radio plays a unique and important role Cameroon and is the principal tool for sharing information. Radio Health International observed that one of the reasons why fake medicines continue to circulate and thrive is because people are not aware of the existence of these drugs and the dangerous effects. In the form of a project with the U.S Embassy in Cameroon, we proposed to use the Radio Health International platform to start a series of debates and public awareness initiatives to pin point where the gaps are and to build a consensus program against fake medicines, titled: Awareness on the Quality of Drugs in Cameroon (AQUAD).
The project is designed to raise nationwide continuous awareness on the existence and dangers of consuming fake medicines. This includes conducting a survey to find out the extent of the problem, a television debate and radio & TV documentaries in the official national languages to sensitize the public. There will be key messages to be translated in local languages so everyone gets the message. Finally, there will be a roundtable discussion to assess the AQUAD campaign and look at the way forward.
The main role of the media is to inform and educate the public; to give them knowledge and extra understanding on an issue. Health is the wealth of the nation, a country slowly erased by poisonous or ineffective medicines will witness slow growth for the lack of man power to execute the tasks at hand. The media has as duty to highlight these key areas of welfare and development for nation building and general social service.
I feel compelled to speak up about fake medicines because people are making a business out of killing innocent Cameroonians. People need to be aware of this murderous network. They need to take it seriously and be more aware of the medicine they are taking. If one life is saved because of a message they heard causing them to be more aware and follow the right treatment, it would have been worth it all. But through our project we intend to reach millions of Cameroonians by informing and changing their mindset so that they may identify real medicines from fake and be more conscious of their health.
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