July 19, 2023
By Chioma Obinna
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, on Wednesday in Lagos decried the nefarious activities of drug hawkers nationwide, warning that any hawker arrested by the agency will be prosecuted and will face a jail term.
Announcing this in Lagos, during a sensitisation workshop on Dangers of Drug Hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Carbide” the director general of NAFDC, Prof Christianah Adeyeye said the agency’s enforcement officers are currently carrying out synchronised nationwide operation.
She maintained that no offender will be spared from facing the full wrath of the Law.
Represented by the Director of Chemical Evaluation & Research, Dr Leonard Omokpariola, she explained that the menace of drug hawking poses a serious challenge to Healthcare Delivery System, hence the need to totally eradicate the illicit trade.
Ädeyeye explained that many drug hawkers are knowingly or unknowingly merchants of death who expose essential and life-saving medicines to the vagaries of inclement weather which degrade the active ingredients of the medicine and turn them into poisons thus endangering human lives.
She said: “Most of the drugs sold by the hawkers are counterfeit, substandard or expired, and do not meet the quality, safety and efficacy requirement of regulated medicines. Prescription drugs are also sold by itinerant hawkers who also hold consultations, and recommend and prescribe medicines to their gullible “patients”.
She added that drug hawkers are also the major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as Armed Bandits, Insurgents, Kidnappers and Armed Robbers and constitute a serious threat to national security.
Adeyeye who also raised the alarm about the indiscriminate ripening of fruits with calcium carbides by many fruit sellers in Nigeria, added that the Agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.
“Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits. However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health.
“You can identify such artificially ripened fruits if you notice that the fruits are all yellow whereas the stem is dark, this is true especially with banana and plantain. In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly.”
She traced the effect of artificial ripening on fruit quality to include considerable loss of properties such as colour, taste and feel, and natural aroma and flavour,
Adeyeye explained that generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc., that pose several very serious health hazards and consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.
“They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so forth. Higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in the lungs. Acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia.
“The impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral oedema (swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids), sleepiness, seizure etc. Consuming such artificially ripened fruits could result in sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, kidney problems and possibly even cancer.”
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