FAKE World Health Organisation (WHO) Yellow Fever International Certificates of Vaccination are being openly sold on the black market at long distance bus terminuses in Zambia and Zimbabwe, risking the health of scores of cross border travellers who buy these counterfeit certificates.
Yellow Fever which is one of the diseases subject to WHO international regulations is a viral disease common in some parts of Africa and South America.
The disease is transmitted to humans through a female mosquito bite and some countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate for all travellers coming from either areas infected with the disease or areas where transmission has occurred even though there may be no risk of becoming infected while travelling in the affected countries.
Only two SADC countries, Tanzania and South Africa, reportedly insist on the provision of the certificates before certain travellers enter their countries.
In Zimbabwe travellers are only issued with the certificate after being administered with the vaccine either at private surgeries or at a government or any other health centre.
But because of the high cost of the vaccine, most travellers prefer to acquire the certificate from the black market where one can easily get the medical document for as little as $5 while the drug costs between $50 and $70 in private pharmacies.
“I was forced to buy the fake card last week from a tout at Lusaka bus terminus. The tout convinced me that if I don’t buy the card, Tanzanian immigration officials were not going to let me into their country without the card,” said Moses Lindela who travelled to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam to collect his car.
Lindela said he only realised that the card was fake when he presented it to immigration officials at Tunduma border post. He was lucky as the officers did not endorse the passport but referred him to a mobile clinic at the border post where he was issued with a genuine certificate after being vaccinated.
Another traveller, Charity Rakapeta, said she bought the fake certificate at Harare Road Port last year after she failed to raise enough money for vaccination at a private surgery.
“All the clinics which I visited had run out of the vaccine and the nurses advised me to get it from private pharmacies. But just because I could not afford the charges at the private pharmacies, I ended up buying the cheap fake certificate at Road Port,” said Rakapeta.
Some Zimbabwean travellers have run into serious trouble at ports of entry in Tanzania after acquiring the fraudulent certificates which have got fake WHO logos and fake doctor stamps and seals.
Close to 900 million people live in areas at the risk of the disease which has no cure.