Developing Countries Beware of Some Western Products: They are Not Eating Many of the Foods or Using Many of the Products They’re Dumping at Us the Same Time They’re Taking Some of Our Best: Part II

In Part I of this blog, I discussed how the brain-drain factor, medical tourisms, and increased consumption and preference for processed foods were decimating our lives in the developing countries while the West avoided these products, developed their healthcare sectors, and prospered in health. Like I stated in that Part I installment, it was not my purpose to provoke an unnecessary hysteria regarding some imported products we might believe are luxury items, or to blame the West for all our woes in the Third World. However, I felt persuaded to bring to light certain issues that are negatively affecting our lives in Nigeria and other developing countries. My urge to proffer these suggestions did not only stem from what I have read in published data, but from my personal experience and observation, being a citizen and resident of Nigeria and having travelled widely around the world. Like I stated before, I have been shocked as I saw how the “Oyinbos” live and contrasted it with how we, in the developing countries are living, and how our lives are being cut short while life in the West is elongating. In this Part II, I will discuss increasing pollution rates, far-fetched structural adjustment programs, public smoking, and corrupt government officials. I will discuss how the duplicity of Westerns countries and the naiveite or apathy of the Third World countries are playing out in those conditions and further making us sicker and shortening our lives in Third World.

Increasing Pollution Rates

The level of contaminants affects life expectancy directly since particular contaminants affect human health. On the one hand, the developed world is constantly instituting effective pollution reduction measures. On the flip side, the developing world lacks efficient guiding principles for cutting down the level of contaminants. The multinationals also emit unrestricted levels of gaseous pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and other unsafe volatile organic compounds into the air; hence, exposing the citizenry in the Third World to diseases like, not only cancers and respiratory diseases, but waterborne diseases as waters are contaminated. The result is that life expectancy is reduced considerably. Although, many developed countries are cutting down on dangerous fossil fuels like coal, they are, however still producing them, but exporting the bulk of it to the Third World.

A CNN report on October 14, 2018 indicated that while the US has drastically cut the use of coal because of pollution, it’s export of the dirty fuel to the Third World has increased 200,000% from the last ten years.

Percentage increase in use of dirty fuel in the Third World (2007-2017)

 Another problem is that the overemphasis on the improvement of the industrial sector in Third World countries, also, has encouraged pollution as more manufacturing countries continue to emit dangerous effluents into the developing countries' water bodies. It is ironical that the highly industrialized nations which limit particular levels of pollutants, which their multinationals could produce, characteristically allow the same multinationals to emit the risky pollutants into the atmosphere of the developing countries.

Far-Fetched Structural Adjustment Programs

Since many developing countries carry a heavy debt burden, the World Bank has resorted to pressurizing such nations to institute radical economic measures, which are unfriendly from a humanitarian angle, in a bid to recover the World Bank's debts. Structural adjustment programs such as deep cuts on healthcare-related spending imply that the citizenry in the developing countries will continue to lack a universal access to health care. This situation further pushes down the life expectancy since ailments would continue to destroy many lives. Also, the structural adjustment programs which chip away at food security means that hunger would continue to ravage the developing countries leading to a vicious cycle of eating readily available processed foods.

Public Smoking

While public smoking remains unrestricted in many countries in the Third World, the developed world restricts public smoking. Consequently, the lung cancer cases have reduced in the West while similar cases have increased in the Third World. Again, as more people continue to adopt the smoking habit in the Middle-East and Africa, more people in North America, for example, are shunning the tendency. Between 2007 and 2017, 48% of cigarette-maker Philip Morris International’s revenues came from its corporations in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Middle-East while only 2.8% were from Western Europe, according to a CNN report.

Increase in Cigarette-maker Philip Morris' revenue (2007-2017)

This situation implies that many Western corporations are profiting by selling their deadly products to the Third World nations since their products are becoming harder to sell in their home counties as their citizens adopt healthier lifestyles. It behoves citizens of the Third World countries to know that cigarette smoking does not only increase one’s chances of suffering lung cancer and other cancers, but heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, diabetes, to name only a few. 

Islam is very particular about drinking, so it is avoided. Unfortunately, the religious leaders forgot to emphasize the dangers of smoking and modern-day drugs, and therein lies the problem. In Nigeria, Northerners, who are predominantly Muslims, smoke more cigarettes than Southerners, who are predominantly Christians. The Northerners smoke the cigarettes, maybe, as a substitute for drinking, which is forbidden by Islamic injunction. However, cigarettes and stress are world’s greatest killers. Use of the other dangerous substances may have also become higher in the North as an alternative to drinking too. For parents, whether in the North or South, talking to our children and grandchildren early and doing so continuously is just the only way to go. We have to get them to understand the dangers of smoking, drinking and use of illicit substances and to help them make changes. People with a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or gastrointestinal or breathing problems are especially vulnerable to those diseases. It is equally important to be disciplined when it comes to everyday food. Foods that are too oily or with high sugar contents are also helping to cut our lives short.

Corrupt Government Officials

Many unprincipled government officials have accounted for the decline in longevity in the Third World countries, as well. The corrupt government employees who siphon millions of dollars into their personal accounts imply that the hospitals in the Third World would continue to have poor equipment and inadequate drugs; hence, life-threatening diseases would continue in terms of severity. More importantly, fraud has affected the number of hospitals in rural areas since most rural areas in the developing world lack hospitals or have few with poor facilities and equipment. As the situation of people, suffering from different ailments, continue, the life expectancy would continue to decline.

Concluding Remarks

While data shows that the rates of malaria and malaria deaths and disability, and HIV/AIDS and related death are decreasing in the Third World (attributable to interventions spear-headed by nongovernmental organizations), the rates of sicknesses like diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, cancers, gastrointestinal diseases, heart disease and a host of others are increasing in the Third World while decreasing in the developed countries. Several grounds have accounted for the attendant progressive decline in life expectancy among the less developed countries. The brain-drain, increasing pollution levels, far-fetched structural adjustment programs, ineffective policies pertaining to public smoking, corrupt government officials, and the westernization of diets explain the extent that the life expectancy has declined gradually in the third world.

When the citizens in the less developed countries understand the dangers facing them, they could improvise strategic survival mechanisms for facilitating their longevity. While no individual citizen can halt the dearth of medical professionals caused by the brain-drain phenomenon, and while they cannot stop importation of dangerous foods and fuels into their countries, there are things each person can do for himself or herself. For example, individuals can avoid the ultra-processed foods which are mostly processed by the multinational headquartered in the West (and China). They can go back to eating home-grown foods that are neither genetically altered nor factory-processed with many toxins inevitably added and nutrients destroyed. Citizens of the developing countries ought to know that eating the imported “big man’s food” certainly goes with “big man’s” trouble too – heart disease, kidney problems, GI disorders, and many more. Citizens could prolong their own lives by avoiding the carcinogenic and similar chemical in the foodstuffs. Although many cigarette-smokers are aware of the dangers and find it hard to quit because of the addictive properties of tobacco, they should explore systematized methods of quitting smoking, so they can prolong their lives.


 Rabia S. Sa'id, PhD
  • Associate Professor of Physics
  • Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria
  • Personal Website:
  • Ford Foundation International Fellow (2002)
  • Fellow of the African Scientific Institute (2013)
  • OWSD/ Elsevier Foundation Award in Physics (2015)


  1. A good sequel. People of the Third World have their lives in their own hands. Information is power. We have many bad players without a conscience in the West. They can sell pure poison to the ignorant person.

    1. With a large population like ours in Africa, multinationals find it irresistible to sell their products. We have to do the due diligence ourselves. Thank you for following my blog.

  2. Please keep up your good work. Organize seminars if you can. There is too much ignorance and it's killing people.

    1. Thank you so much. Glad to know I am making sense 😍

  3. Nice piece and thought provoking. It's quite a worrisome situation, and I must commend your effort for evolving with this piece. While there's higthened flair for foreign product by Africans, especially Nigerians, the regulatory agencies have fallen short in the discharge of their responsibilities. Although, quite a number of factors including administrative corruption, obsolete equipments for testing, and inadequate or lack of qualified personnel are attribute factors. But then, there's the urgent need for the continent to evolve with plausible measures of addressing the inflock at the continental level. The AU has a huge role to play in this regards. Again, national governments, both state and non-state actors also have the responsibility of ensuring our regulatory agencies function in the right direction. Lastly, awareness creation on the dangers associated with high consumption of foreign canned or preservatively woven items needs to be engendered.

    1. Every person's or region's destiny is in their own hands. Attitudes will begin to change when people start speaking up like this.


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