Buenos Aires: An Argentine agricultural engineer kidnapped in Nigeria and held captive for three days in the west African country claimed using the name of his famous compatriot, footballer Lionel Messi, calmed his violent abductors.
The 28-year-old said he owes his life to the star forward.
Santiago Lopez Menendez had been working in the west African nation since last year, planting soya and corn crops close to Kontagora in the north-west of the country, reports an Argentine website on Sunday.
But he was kidnapped earlier this week and beaten violently by his captors, who hardly spoke any English and thought he was north American.
It was then in desperation that Menendez tried to tell them he was Argentine and he was eventually able to calm down his aggressors with repeated cries of “Messi, Messi, Messi”.
Held captive for three days, the engineer was released after the company who employs him paid an undisclosed ransom to the kidnappers.
Back in Argentina, his brother Jorge said on Sunday, “Tell them I am grateful to Messi, he told me. Naming him is what saved me.”
Menendez is now safe and will return to his homeland. (IANS)
When Moustapha Dieng came down with stomach pains one day last month he did the sensible thing and went to a doctor in his hometown of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, Africa.
The doctor prescribed a malaria treatment but the medicine cost too much for Dieng, a 30-year-old tailor, so he went to an unlicensed street vendor for pills on the cheap.
“It was too expensive at the pharmacy. I was forced to buy street drugs as they are less expensive,” he said. Within days he was hospitalized — sickened by the very drugs that were supposed to cure him.
Tens of thousands of people in Africa die each year because of fake and counterfeit medication, an E.U.-funded report released on Tuesday said. The drugs are mainly made in China but also in India, Paraguay, Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
Almost half the fake and low-quality medicines reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2013 and 2017 were found to be in sub-Saharan Africa, said the report, also backed by Interpol and the Institute for Security Studies.
“Counterfeiters prey on poorer countries more than their richer counterparts, with up to 30 times greater penetration of fakes in the supply chain,” said the report.
Substandard or fake anti-malarials cause the deaths of between 64,000 and 158,000 people per year in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.
The counterfeit drug market is worth around $200 billion worldwide annually, WHO says, making it the most lucrative trade of illegally copied goods. Its impact has been devastating.
Nigeria said more than 80 children were killed in 2009 by a teething syrup tainted with a chemical normally used in engine coolant and blamed for causing kidney failure.
For Dieng, the cost can be measured in more than simple suffering. The night in hospital cost him more than double what he would have paid had he bought the drugs the doctor ordered.
“After taking those drugs, the provenance of which we don’t know, he came back with new symptoms … All this had aggravated his condition,” said nurse Jules Raesse, who treated Dieng when he stayed at the clinic last month.
Fake drugs also threaten a thriving pharmaceutical sector in several African countries.
That has helped prompt Ivory Coast – where fake drugs were also sold openly – to crack down on the trade, estimated at $30 billion by Reuters last year.
Ivorian authorities said last month they had seized almost 400 tonnes of fake medicine over the past two years.
Able Ekissi, an inspector at the health ministry, told Reuters the seized goods, had they been sold to consumers, would have represented a loss to the legitimate pharmaceutical industry of more than $170 million.
“They are reputed to be cheaper, but at best they are ineffective and at worst toxic,” Abderrahmane Chakibi, Managing Director of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi’s sub-Saharan Africa branch.