The Ghana Food and Drugs Authority has commenced the implementation of the ban on import and sale of skin bleaching products imposed in January this year.
The Acting Chief Executive of the Authority, Mimi Darko told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday (16 August) that they are cracking down on the products in the market.
She told the committee that the FDA has stopped registering products containing the bleaching chemical hydroquinone and has launched a sensitization programme against the sale of the product in the market.
“The bleaching agent in most bleaching creams is hydroquinone and the Ghana standard now is, there should be zero per cent hydroquinone in bleaching creams,” she is quoted by local media.
“The FDA is working with cosmetic sellers to ensure that those creams are not available on the market. The lab is also testing to make sure that even if they try and hide it, we will find it in laboratory analysis,” she added.
The ban on skin bleaching creams followed that of neighbouring Ivory Coast – a major production point of bleaching creams – in 2015. The Ivorian health ministry said at the time that the ban was due to fears of lasting damage to health.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has banned the active ingredients of skin lighteners – hydroquinone and mercury – from being used in any unregulated skin products.
Unregulated products have significantly higher quantities of hydroquinone and mercury than those recommended by dermatologists. Using them could lead to liver and kidney failure or hyperpigmentation, which is dark skin patches forming on the area where the product is used. There is also a risk of skin cancer because the melanin synthesis which protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation is inhibited by hydroquinone.
According to the WHO, 77% of women in Nigeria use skin lightening products, 59% in Togo and 27% in Senegal. Demand is also high in Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya where advertising has targeted young women.
Adira Kallo with agency reports