Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has said there are plans to establish a specialized court to preside over matters concerning food safety and drug abuse.
The food and drugs regulator is seeking to crack the whip on violators of the country’s public health laws and check the rise in the sale of unapproved products in the markets nationwide.
Mr Emmanuel Nkrumah, Head of Cosmetics and Household Chemical Substance Department of FDA, said this in a meeting with the press in Wa on Wednesday.
The meeting was to draw journalists’ attention on harmful effects of the use of bleaching pills and airing of unapproved advertisements in the media.
A meeting has been held between officials of the FDA and judges from the Supreme Court and High Courts at the national level and would be replicated in the regions, Mr Nkrumah said.
The consultation aimed to solicit the judges’ consent after which the Chief Justice would then have to take the ultimate decision for the establishment of the court that would deliver judgment on matters relating food and drug use.
“People are engaging in diabolic acts, they are mixing all sort of chemicals without knowing the chemical reactions, we will crack the whip when the safety of Ghanaians are concerned,” he said.
Mr Nkrumah expressed worry about a new trend where people use unapproved pills and injections in an attempt to change their skin colours while others lighten their lips with deadly chemicals that eventually cause chronic diseases.
He condemned the use unapproved cosmetics for bleaching and chemicals to brighten their lips as unacceptable, saying: “There is no approved product that can lighten the lips, the bad nuts will have to be flushed out of the system; this problem is a Ghanaian problem,” he said.
Mr Nkrumah called on the media to be circumspect and avoid granting advertising space to products that have been prohibited under the law because reports showed that some patients on certain medications usually abandon their prescribed drugs and go in for the advertised ones.
According to section 114 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851) sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS or diseases connected with human reproductive functions are prohibited for advertisement for treatment, prevention or cure.
Mr Nkrumah said several media houses have violated the law and some have been fined, and warned that the FDA would invoke provisions of the law to ensure the total safety of all Ghanaians.
According to the Act, the minimum fine for violation is GH¢90,000.00 and the maximum is GH¢180,000.00 or receive a jail term ranging from 15 to 25 years or both (fine and jail).
Mr James Lartey, Head of Communications at FDA, expressed appreciation that since the authority issued a directive banning advertisement of alcoholic beverages in the media houses during some specific hours, the compliance level had been very high.
He said the local media ought to do more to support the FDA win the war against recalcitrant dealers of unauthorized food and drugs that endanger lives of unsuspecting Ghanaians.
“The fact is that when the product is approved by the FDA to sell in the market, it does not give a right to advertise. And by law, the FDA has to approve the advertisement”, he said.