The current economic crunch in the country means that almost everyone is after an alternative source of income. This has led to a proliferation of all sorts of legal, semi-legal and downright illegal businesses. One business seems to have caught on like a rash in Nigeria is Multi-level Marketing. In Nigeria, MLM occurs in all shapes, forms and sizes – to be fair, MLM in the country predates the current crunch. The current situation has only provided an ideal breeding ground for its proliferation. This should not be a bad thing itself; people should have the right to make or lose their money as they well please; except when it affects something like people’s health.
One of the key strategies for many, if not all of them, is the marketing of so called ‘health products’. They claim to prevent and cure every illness known to man, from cancers to boils. They usually use technical-sounding terms to buttress these outlandish claims and confuse and bamboozle the public. I previously wrote about this phenomenon in a blog post titled ‘The omnipotent diagnostic machine’, which you can read here. In the four odd years that have passed since I wrote that, there has only been an upsurge in the number of medical snake oil salesmen, peddling all sorts of remedies, and robbing unsuspecting people of their hard earned money. Today, I choose to shine the light on Longrich.
The first time I heard about this company, it was your basic MLM Company, promising many rewards for buying and using their products, and for building your network. Having been burnt a couple of times by MLM companies, I paid scant attention to this one; every man and his poison, to each his own. I however sat up and noticed when I started hearing some claims about their toothpaste – it isn’t satisfied with just being toothpaste, it also has calories (???) and the antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties of green tea. The toothpaste is also sufficiently expensive to cover these benefits, as compared to other brands. This begs a couple of questions; is Longrich toothpaste to be swallowed? Or how do you get the benefit of these ‘calories’ and the antioxidant and anticancer properties. Related to that, should people who are on a strict diet or calorie-counting avoid the toothpaste?
The product that sowed the seeds of this post in my head however, is the Longrich panty liner. It is not just a panty liner, but a pimple popper, surgeon, trash excavator, architect, endocrinologist and fertility expert rolled in one, if the promotional poster is to be believed. Here’s a picture of the properties of this wonder-working panty liner.
While I was still mulling the idea of the post in my head, I came across this poster of the Longrich shoes, a.k.a the first human battery recharger. Apparently, there are droids among us, made, not of flesh and blood, but of alkaline batteries (although I’m not sure if they are Lithium or Nickel based!). These shoes just stopped short of containing a drop from the fountain of everlasting youth.
I have a few issues with products that claim to be what they are not, especially claiming to treat and cure illnesses. They induce patients to stop taking their proper medications, thereby endangering their lives. They are prohibitively expensive – on a social media post, someone was told that the shoes would cure his spondylosis, especially when used with the necklace. Both items cost half a million naira. Also, Nigerians are an interesting specie of people; when asked to pay for basic tests or treatments in the hospital, they often claim that they cannot afford them or that they are too expensive. Yet, when faced with nebulous cures such as these products, they are quick to throw money at them. Nigeria’s healthcare service is mostly financed by out of pocket spending, which is catastrophic and poverty-inducing for many families. However, there is a strong possibility that these families were already unnecessarily impoverished ab initio by products promising health cures that they cannot deliver on. This is majorly because we would rather prevent and ‘treat’ our illnesses at home, than go to the hospital and ‘dash’ the doctor money.
Some medical personnel are also complicit – many of people driving these MLMs leverage on the public trust invested in health workers, and recruit them as agents of their deception; I had a personal experience when one such group was trying to get me to ‘prescribe’ ionizer cups to patients. A colleague of mine confirmed that his ‘friend’ has stopped speaking to him for over a year because he refused to prescribe similar products. Some unscrupulous individuals fully buy into this for the financial gain. This is tantamount to abuse of trust, and is unbecoming of people who have a sworn duty of care to the public.
In conclusion, here are a few pieces of advice:
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is! Like I wrote in the other post, few things in this life are omnipotent. The human body is made up of different specialized, though interconnected systems – this is why doctors specialize in different fields. You should view with suspicion, any product, machine, or test system that claims to be able to check EVERYTHING wrong with your body, or a panty liner that is able to simultaneously, treat conditions across nearly all systems with suspicion.
Google is your friend! A cursory search on Google just might save you that extra buck or two. And who doesn’t like a friend that saves them money? There are even websites that are set up mainly to disprove hoaxes and urban myths. When in doubt, ask Google!
As for Longrich, I wish they would be willing to submit the veracity of their claims to scientific testing. I could volunteer to provide someone with fibroids, diagnosed in the hospital, while they supply the panty liners. Let’s put this thing to bed once and for all!
I have a bonus picture for you guys! Here’s a rubbish test result purely designed to rob unsuspecting people of their hard earned money.
Phew! Long Post! I hope you have enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing
I missed you guys! The long silence was due to my adapting to certain changes in my circumstances, but I’m back again!
So, as a way of making this an interesting and interactive blog, I’m considering doing interview series with people doing fascinating and innovative things in the public health space in Nigeria, as a way of beaming a light on the good in us. I’m also considering doing a Q&A session on various topics, that will probably be suggested by you. So let me know what you think, and I will find a way to make the magic happen.