Thirteen Canadian health workers were detained by Ethiopian authorities on Friday, February 28, over allegations that they were improperly practicing medicine in the country. Canadian Humanitarian, an Alberta-based NGO the workers belonged to, confirmed the detention but denied the allegations, which included distributing expired medication and administering healthcare without formal approval from the Ethiopian government. Canadian consular officials are currently in contact with the Ethiopian government and have been allowed access to the detainees.
Why It Matters
Dozens of health-oriented NGOs operate in Africa, addressing gaps in health needs that some governments and local institutions fail to meet. Many of these organization do good work, but there is a rising problem of untrained and non-professional aid workers administering medical care they are otherwise unqualified to perform, which has resulted in adverse public health for recipients. In countries with weak oversight of NGOs, or whose governments wish to keep good relations with Western countries to maintain access to funding and resources, such medical malpractices can go on for years.