*Partners NYSC to tackle menace
Okon Bassey in Uyo and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
The National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has vowed to adopt stringent actions against drug hawking and artificial ripening of fruits in the country.
The Director General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the pledge in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, yesterday, during the flag-off of NAFDAC Media Sensitisation Workshop on the Dangers of Drug Hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Calcium Carbide.
Adeyeye, who spoke through the Director of Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr. Leonard Omokpariola, expressed worry over the dangers and health implication of those two nefarious acts.
Accordingly, Adeyeye stressed that the agency had taken decisive steps through media sensitisation, enforcement through intelligence and raids in fruit markets that have resulted in seizures and destruction of such products.
The Director General hinted that the flag – off of the media sensitisation workshop was aimed at sustaining and strengthening NAFDAC’s existing collaboration with the Association of Health Journalists in Nigeria towards mobilising, educating, sensitising, and conscientising Nigerian journalists to play frontline role in efforts to eradicate the social crime.
“The menace of drug hawking has continued to pose serious challenge to healthcare delivery system in the country and this underscored NAFDAC’s resolute determination to totally eradicate the illicit trade.
“Many drug hawkers are knowingly or unknowingly merchants of death who expose essential while many drugs sold by the illiterate and semi-literate drug hawkers are counterfeit, substandard or expired, and therefore do not meet the quality, safety and efficacy requirement of regulated medicines.
“Drug hawkers are also the major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and armed robbers. Drug hawkers constitute serious threat to our national security,” she added.
“I wish to warn that any Drug Hawker arrested by NAFDAC will be prosecuted, will face a jail term, and our enforcement officers are currently carrying out synchronised nation-wide operation. No offender will be spared from facing the full wrath of the law,” she said.
Adeyeye, said the effect of artificial ripening on fruit quality included considerable loss of properties such as colour, taste and feel, and such practice does not give the natural aroma and flavour to the fruits.
“Calcium Carbide when sprayed with water reacts chemically to produce acetylene, which acts like ethylene and ripens fruits by a similar process. Calcium carbide generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc., that pose several very serious health hazards,” she stressed.
In a welcome remark, NAFDAC Zonal Director in charge of South-east and South-south, Dr. Chike Obiano, said the media remained a critical stakeholder to the attainment of NAFDAC’s objectives.
NAFDAC also said it would collaborate with the members and officials of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to fight against the menace of drug hawking across the country.
The agency said drug hawking had endangered so many lives, especially Nigerians who, “we have ignorantly patronised the uncertified drugs while going through short cut to healing of their ill health.”
lth, and with that very policy in place, anyone caught hawking drugs will be prosecuted. He reinstated that the agency has ban hawking of drugs in the country.
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