Unlicensed clinics and pharmacies with unqualified staff have been dispensing counterfeit and expired medicines that are making people sick and endangering the lives of Somalis. The sick can be seen walking towards the hospital at dawn, before any other souls venture out onto the streets of Mogadishu. They move slowly, placing one shaky limb before the other, accompanied by the cool ocean breeze and the sound of crowing roosters.

Those with a dollar to spare take a tuk-tuk. They are all heading to a high-walled guarded compound in the relatively well-off neighbourhood in Mogadishu’s Hodan district. These latest victims of Mogadishu’s thriving counterfeit and expired medication industry hope to get treatment at one of the few licensed hospitals in the city. They are also the lucky ones. Many people who are sickened by the dubious medication do not make it this far.

Every morning more than 50 patients gather to be seen by a doctor at doctor Osman Mohamud Dufle’s specialist hospital. Several among them are usually people who have suffered complications caused by the expired or counterfeit medication prescribed to them by unqualified health workers. Osman Mohamud Muhumed was one of them and had come to this private hospital to seek treatment. The 52-year-old had sought treatment for what appeared to be malaria, but ended up bedridden for six months after taking medication given to him by doctors at a clinic near his home just outside the city.

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