Investigation: Inside Nigeria’s Deadly Medical Quackery Business

From fever to a lifetime deformity, Zulfa’a Abdullahi’s 13-year-old daughter, Aisha, is one of numerous victims of medical quackery in Nigeria. In the last 9 years, Aisha has lived with a leg deformity that has left her limping after an alleged quack doctor administered an unknown injection on her.

In the densely populated urban slum of Rijiyar Lemo in Kano State where Zulfa’a and her family have lived for over 10 years, she narrated how the lethal injection of a man she now describes as a “dangerous quack doctor,” endangered the life of her daughter and several others.

Sometime in 2013, Aisha, then aged three, had fever; and an injection, which Zulfa’a could not recall its name, was prescribed for her daughter at a government- owned hospital. But because of distance, Zulfa’a said she took her daughter to a nearby private clinic operated by a man she later discovered was a quack doctor.

This quack, who Zulfa’a said she could not recall his name, injected Aisha, and soon after, caused a walking abnormality for the 13-year-old. “We later noticed that her ankle was deformed and it worsened as she grew older,” Zulfa’a, a mother of eight said.

Even as she attempted to seek legal redress, she said her husband had discouraged her and advised that they channel their energy to their daughter’s health and the fact that Aisha may need to undergo surgery in the future. “The quack doctor later died, leaving behind other children with deformity,” she said.

Like Zulfa’a’s daughter, Hajiya Bilkisu Hamza’s encounter with a medical quack left her with a condition associated with heart enlargement.

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