Uganda's Health Pyramid - Al Jazeera People & Power

Living in a poor country with one of the worst doctor-patient ratios in the world - about one for every 24,000 people - it's perhaps no surprise that many Ugandans are tempted by alternative remedies, even though there's often little evidence to support the claims made about their efficacy in treating or preventing disease. The phenomenon begs many questions, not least of which being how exactly are these products marketed and who really benefits from their sale?

We'd heard reports about one particularly controversial business, a complex multi-level marketing scheme run in Uganda under the aegis of a Chinese company called Tiens, which produces food supplements.

Its products, we'd been told, were being inappropriately sold as medications - in some cases for very serious diseases. We had also heard disturbing claims that its sales representatives, or "distributors" as they are known, were being invited to invest large sums of money in Tiens products, when in reality there was little chance of most of them ever making the kind of dazzling returns that the company promised.

I worked as a researcher on this project, logging and transcribing footage, writing briefs, as well as sourcing contacts and interviews. Watch the episode on Al Jazeera.

[This report was first broadcast on 02/02/17]