Medicines for life

Getting ill and trying to overcome illness is an inescapable part of human life and today Western medicines has become a central part of most health care systems worldwide. While in Western countries such medicines are under strict regulation and surveillance, the same drugs are sold in Sierra Leone with only few restrictions.


This exhibition illustrates the heterogeneous healthcare system in Sierra Leone and the easy access to varying qualities of Western medicines. Every year about 1 million Africans die due to substandard medical treatment including medicine shortages. In most African cities medicines are sold on every street corner, thus the problem is not poor availability per se but rather lack of rational use and regulation.


In Sierra Leone the availability of treatment is made up from a wide range of different medical remedies and health providers. Often you will find herbal medicine sold at the market next to a booth selling Western medicine. You will find official pharmacies with educated staff, less official pharmacies with less educated staff, and often also a governmental or NGO hospital. You will find street peddlers selling medicine from a basket carried on their head, and you will find Temne doctors who offer to cure your illness by the use of a personal spirit and a thorough knowledge of healing herbs. Here patients often make pragmatic use of the whole spectrum of health providers and navigate with great flexibility among these. Deciding a health care option is primarily based on informed choices as a result of a continuous and personal re-evaluation of how best to attain recovery. However, Western medicine often constitutes an inevitable part of the choice.


Pharmacists without Borders Denmark aims to promote health in developing countries through safe use of medicines.

  • We conduct development projects focusing on proper use of medication through education and training.
  • We improve handling and use of medicines in health care facilities and among civilian populations.
  • We inform about problems with medication use in developing countries both nationally and internationally and we strengthen local competencies of students and health professionals.


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