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The Unintended Consequences of Cameroon’s Lockdown

Authorities in Cameroon say the coronavirus pandemic has led to a spike in excessive drinking – and in deaths from fake alcohol.  Consumer groups protested earlier this week, saying authorities need to do more to crack down on both counterfeit alcohol and medicine. Hundreds of people came out on Monday to watch the seizure of what authorities allege are “fake whiskies” from Elig-Edzoa market in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde. Officials of Cameroon’s ministry of trade, customs and the police were cracking down on fake alcohol to mark World Consumer Rights Day. Cameroon’s Medical Council says about three-fourths of the 7,500 deaths from liver problems in Cameroon in 2020 were due to the consumption of fake alcohol. The police said some products are made from pure ethanol or with alcohol bought or stolen from pharmacies and hospitals. Fake drugs are another problem. The government said about 380 people died of fake drugs in Cameroon in 2020, up from 223 in 2019. The government said the true numbers are probably higher because fewer than 30 percent of civilians visit hospitals. Some buy roadside drugs and others prefer African traditional medicine.