By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has warned the general public that buying drugs from hawkers and fruits ripened with calcium Carbide is a complete aberration and can lead to death.
The NAFDAC Director General, Professor, Mojisola Adeyeye, gave the warning last Tuesday in a programme organized by the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, titled, “South-East Zone NAFDAC Media Sensitization Workshop on Dangers of Drugs Hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Calcium Carbides”, held at the Federal Secretariat Conference Hall, Awka, Anambra State.
She said that buying drug, from hawkers and eating fruits ripened with calcium carbide was dangerous to health and could kill as well, urging the media to assist in sensitizing the information to Nigerians.
According to Adeyeye, in her address presented at the programme and read by the Director, Chemical Evaluation & Research, Dr. Leonard Omokpariola, ‘There have been clarion calls by well-meaning Nigerians for the need to take stringent regulatory actions to stop dangerous drugs hawking and ripening of fruits with chemicals.
‘In addition, several national dailies and non-governmental organizations have raised concern on the looming danger and health implications of these two nefarious activities perpetrated by some unpatriotic and unscrupulous individuals in our country.
‘We, in 2019, immediately took decisive steps, such as sensitizing the public through different media outlets and enforcement through intelligence and raid of some food markets that are dotted and mischievously violating the products.
‘So, the flagging off today is a fulfillment of my promise to sustain NAFDAC, uplifting collaboration by organizing health journalists in Nigeria towards mobilizing, educating, sensitizing and conscientizing Nigerians so that they play a vital role in our efforts to eradicate drugs hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide,’ said Adeyeye
Presenting a paper titled, “Danger of Artificial Ripening of Fruits with calcium carbides”, Dr. Leonard Omokpariola defined ripening of fruits as the process by which fruits attain their charitable flavour and quality colour palatable nature.
He noted that the benefits of naturally ripening fruits were good vitamins and minerals; mentioning vitamins C and other vitamins, and warned that selling the fruits ripened with calcium carbides was causing hazard to innocent Nigerians.
Also, the Director (Investigation & Enforcement), Mr. Francis Ononiwu, who was represented by Dr. Mrs. Christiana Esenwah, in her paper presentation titled, “The Menace of Drugs Hawking in Nigeria”, explained that drugs hawking was the illegal act of selling of drugs by unlicensed vendors who moved from place to place, carrying drugs exposed to the vagaries of climate weather.
She mentioned antibiotics, narcotics and other drugs as the drugs sold by drugs hawkers, even as she gave the factors contributing to drugs hawking as; easy accessibility, affordability, poor drug distributing system and illiteracy.
Other speakers included; the Director of Public Affairs (NAFDAC), Dr. Abubakar Jimoh and President, Association of Health Journalists of Nigeria, Mr. Hassan Zaggi. They stated that it was important for the media to inform the public on the inherent dangers in drugs hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbides.
They equally said it was a moral burden to media and various stakeholders to assist NAFDAC in educating people on the dangers in drugs hawking and ripening fruits with calcium carbides since NAFDAC would not do it alone.
Dignitaries at the programme included; State Director of NDLEA, Mr. Daniel Ogbonna Onyishi; State Director of NYSC, Mrs. Blessing Ekene Iruma, among others.