Drug hawkers, merchants of death – NAFDAC

Drug hawkers, merchants of death – NAFDAC
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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC): Combating the Perils of Drug Hawking and Unsafe Fruit Ripening

merchants of death

In the relentless pursuit of safeguarding public health, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) stands as an unwavering sentinel against the proliferation of drug hawking and the perilous practice of fruit ripening using harmful chemicals. The Director General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, has unequivocally characterized drug hawkers as “merchants of death,” issuing a clarion call to the masses to distance themselves from these hazardous activities.

The Dire Warning and The Determined Mission

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Addressing a distinguished audience at the “Media Sensitization Workshop on the Dangers of Drug Hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Calcium Carbide,” held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director General of NAFDAC, minced no words in highlighting the dire consequences of drug hawking. She emphasized that this nefarious practice poses a significant challenge to the healthcare delivery system in the country, undermining the safety and efficacy of medicinal products.

Prof. Adeyeye’s resolute stance underscores NAFDAC’s unyielding commitment to eradicate the illicit trade of counterfeit, substandard, and expired drugs. She articulated that these drug hawkers, often semi-literate individuals, peddle products that not only fail to meet the stringent quality, safety, and efficacy standards of regulated medicines but also expose these vital and life-saving drugs to harsh environmental conditions, rendering them ineffective and potentially dangerous.

The Menace of Counterfeit and Substandard Drugs

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Dr. Leonard Onokporiola, the Director of Chemical Evaluation and Research at NAFDAC, underscored the gravity of the situation by elucidating that a substantial portion of the drugs sold by these semi-illiterate hawkers are fake and substandard. Prof. Adeyeye added that this reprehensible trade extends even to prescription medications, with itinerant drug hawkers assuming the roles of consultants, recommending and prescribing medicines to unsuspecting patients. This deeply troubling trend not only compromises public health but also fuels criminal networks by supplying them with narcotic medicines.

A Threat to National Security

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The nexus between drug hawking and national security is undeniable. Prof. Adeyeye raised a significant alarm, highlighting how these merchants of death are instrumental in providing illicit drugs to armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, and robbers. This convergence of criminal activities necessitates a collaborative approach involving relevant security agencies, stakeholders, and the public to thwart the operations of these nefarious actors.

The Uncompromising Consequences

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NAFDAC’s stance against drug hawking is unequivocal and comes with unwavering consequences. Any individual apprehended for engaging in this illicit trade faces prosecution, imprisonment, and the relentless pursuit of NAFDAC’s enforcement officers conducting synchronized nationwide operations. This unwavering commitment to enforcement is aimed at cleansing the healthcare landscape from the dangers posed by these unscrupulous actors.

The Hazards of Unsafe Fruit Ripening

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In her unrelenting pursuit of public welfare, Prof. Adeyeye doesn’t stop at tackling drug hawking; she also delves into the hazardous practice of ripening fruits with harmful chemicals. She educates the public on identifying artificially ripened fruits, particularly bananas, plantains, and mangoes. Prof. Adeyeye warns that artificially ripened fruits may have a consistent yellow color while the stem remains dark—a telltale sign of the dangerous practice. Furthermore, naturally ripened fruits exhibit brown or black spots, whereas artificially ripened ones might display traces of powdery substances and peel off with ease.

The Toxic Implications of Calcium Carbide

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The practice of using calcium carbide to expedite fruit ripening is a ticking health time bomb. Prof. Adeyeye expounds that calcium carbide, laden with impurities like arsenic, lead particles, and phosphorus, carries severe health hazards. Consumption of fruits contaminated with these impurities can lead to cancer, heart, kidney, and liver failure. Alarming symptoms such as frequent thirst, irritation in the mouth and nose, weakness, and skin damage underscore the pernicious effects of these artificially ripened fruits.

A Plethora of Health Complications

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The ramifications of ingesting artificially ripened fruits stretch beyond the immediate, often manifesting in a cascade of health complications. Prof. Adeyeye elucidates that acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system, reducing oxygen supply to the brain and inducing prolonged hypoxia—a condition of inadequate oxygen supply to body tissues. Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable to the impurities present in these fruits, which can trigger an array of adverse effects, including headaches, dizziness, mood disturbances, memory loss, and even seizures.

The Alkaline Menace

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Calcium carbide’s alkaline nature poses further risks to human health. It corrodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region, disrupting intestinal functions. The consequences of consuming artificially ripened fruits are dire, encompassing sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, kidney problems, and potentially even cancer. The alarming range of symptoms includes diarrhea, burning sensations in the abdomen and chest, difficulty swallowing, and even numbness.

NAFDAC’s Resolute Stand

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In a poignant reminder of the dangers posed by the consumption of fruits ripened with harmful chemicals, Mr. Chike Obiano, the South East and South South Zonal Coordinator of NAFDAC, emphasizes that this practice is a significant contributor to health complications in the country. Nigeria, unfortunately, has earned the ignominious distinction of being a global epicenter of drug abuse, accounting for about 14 percent of the world’s record of drug abuse.

The Power of Media and Public Awareness

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Mr. Obiano implores the media to play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the perils of drug hawking and the hazardous practice of fruit ripening with calcium carbide. He believes that by amplifying the message of NAFDAC’s efforts, the media can contribute significantly to the eradication of these dangerous activities.

In Conclusion

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In the grand tapestry of safeguarding public health, NAFDAC’s unwavering commitment shines bright. Through tireless efforts, stringent enforcement, and unequivocal education, NAFDAC aims to uproot the scourge of drug hawking and the hazardous practice of unsafe fruit ripening. The collective responsibility of citizens, stakeholders, and security agencies is crucial in this endeavor to secure a healthier, safer future for all.

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