August 20, 2022
A scientist isolates wild poliovirus at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi on July 28, 2016.

A recent exposé has uncovered the lengths that unscrupulous traders will go to in their thirst for profit.

The traders who work from the back alleys of Nairobi’s populous downtown area of River Road are cashing in on illegal products while gambling with the lives of those who patronize their establishments.

These entrepreneurs are selling beauty enhancement pills and injections to clients chasing after the Vera Sidika and Kim Kardashian aesthete who cannot afford plastic surgery.

As per a report by Daily Nation on Saturday, March, 7, the traders are charging between Ksh 3,000 to Ksh 20,000 for the deadly injections.

The products, which are mainly sold to women, claim to enhance the shape of the hips, breasts, and buttocks to achieve the coveted hourglass shape. 

Nairobi’s River Road plays host to the unregulated clinics that offer these services to desperate clients. Under the innocuous title of ‘mafuta’, the beauticians pull in young women with backstreet injections, gels, creams, and pills as well as skin bleaching services.

Medical experts are concerned about these products that flout government laws and which are linked to rising cases of infertility in the country and may be a contributing factor in cases of cancer.

Maggie, one of the beauticians engaged in the trade, charges Ksh 10,000 for injections and Ksh 3,000 for the enhancement pills. There is also a Ksh 1,000 option for creams and gels but this has to be used continuously if they are to work.

“This one, if you stop using, your hips deflate to the size they were at the start,” explains one woman, dissuading the Ksh 1,000 pocket-friendly option.

In the 1990s, the Kenya Bureau of Standards banned several ingredients of cosmetic products including Hydroquinone, steroids, mercury, hydrogen peroxide and other elements harmful to the human body.

The beauticians selling these products at the high prices use this as a justification for the exorbitant costs. One of them, who identifies as a nurse, stated that she could only show the product to clients who have already raised the Ksh 20,000 price.

“You know this trade is illegal. I can only show you the substance once you have raised the Ksh 20, 000 and made up your mind that you are doing this” she stated.


A scientist isolates wild poliovirus at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in Nairobi on July 28, 2016.

Daily Nation

Silicone gel is the likely substance used in these injections. Rogue practitioners are said to be using fake or nonmedical-grade silicon. One of these is silicon sealant (cement) that is used in household construction to seal bathroom tiles and floors.

The government has provided no guidance as yet on who should regulate the products sold in this deadly industry.

The labs at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Kenya Public Health Research as well as the National Quality and Control Laboratory all claimed to lack the capacity to analyze the enhancement products.

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