In the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, anyone with a bucket and an access to a cache of medicines can be a pharmacist — no diplomas needed. For many Haitians, buying medicines off roaming street vendors is the norm; they are their main source of medicine. Pills are considered as ordinary wares to be peddled, just like candy or water bottles.
The government’s disregard for this activity puts the lives of Haitians at risk in the hands of untrained and unqualified sellers, who dole out prescriptions that can do more harm than good, such as one seller prescribing antibiotics for acne.
Collaborating on a medical access project, photographers Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti have long been fascinated by these roaming pharmacies. Their photo series sheds light on this dangerous practice while begging the question: what can be done about it? Set against a plain white background, each vendor shows off their set up which is more or less the same: a stash of pills (fake Viagras, generic meds from China, expired pills, counterfeit drugs from neighbouring countries) strapped around a cylinder and balanced on a pail, with a pair of scissors sticking out of the top. Visually, it’s a colorfully stunning installation art of sorts. But sadly, the consequences remain a different story.
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Photos: Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti