A below-the-radar opioid crisis is brewing in Africa as Tramadol pain pills flood the market.
Tramadol offers a cheap and easily-accessible high similar to heroin. A key source of inexpensive pain relief in the developing world, the WHO has avoided regulating the drug.
But easy access is driving addiction, Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu reports. In 2015, Egypt’s health ministry found that 68% of addiction treatment patients in government facilities were Tramadol addicts. Moreover, the cheaply made pills from China and India are flowing across Africa’s porous borders, providing a cash cow for terrorists groups like Al Qaeda and Boko Haram.