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Opinions of Saturday, 22 October 2016

Columnist: Debby Yemeh

Medicines - Watch where you buy them

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Medicine has two basic meanings, it first refers to the Science of Healing; the practice of the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease, and the promotion of health, and secondly, medications, drugs andbsubstances used to treat and cure diseases and to promote health.

From the use of herbs to modern drugs prepared in laboratories, medicine has come a long way. Undisputedly, all human societies have medical beliefs that provide explanations for birth, death, and disease. Throughout history, illness has been attributed to witchcraft, demons, adverse astral influence, or the will of the gods.

Orthodox and unorthodox medicines, which have been in existence since the 19th century, are both known to be used for treatment of ailments. As the years went by, the environment changed, meaning medicines needed to go through various processes to heal.

In Ghana, just like other African countries, medicines can be bought at pharmacy shops but some are also available on the streets, despite the health implications.

Some people shared their experiences with drug peddlers. For some, the medicine had no visible effect.

Mr Dean Yeng, a businessman talked about his experience with drug peddlers.

‘I once bought a medicine in a bus from Accra to Cape Coast. Upon insistence from the peddler that I would stop using my spectacles after I took the drug, I bought some of his medicine’.

According to him, nothing changed after taking the medication.

‘I waited for the medicine to work, but nothing happened.

For others, the medicine worked partially.

Mrs Rose Dapilah, a teacher said ‘I used to have migraines, and in one of the buses, a woman selling medicine persuaded me to buy.

‘I bought it, and surprisingly, my migraine went away for some time,’ she added Madam Charlotte Mensah, a data analyst also confided in an interview that indeed she had bought traditional medicine from a vehicle from Accra to Kasoa.

‘I remember I was having Malaria, and I was persuaded to buy the medicine from a man . When I started taking it, I realised I was getting better”.

The Head of Communications of the Food and Drugs Authority(FDA), Mr James Lartey, has, however, warned Ghanaians to desist from buying medicines from drug peddlers. He?said ‘The pharmacy Council in collaboration with the Food and Drugs Authority is working to stop those who sell on the streets and in vehicles. Some of these drugs affect the kidney, liver and can ultimately break down the immune system”.

Mr Lartey said the selling of medicine in vehicles was illegal, and offenders would be arrested.

He said medicines were a delicate combination of substances, and improper or poor storage could make them lose their power or worse still, make them harmful to the body.

‘Medicines are supposed to be sold in registered pharmaceutical shops, so they can be traced in case something goes wrong’

Laws against drug peddling

The Public Health Act 25, Act 851, states that peddling drugs can land you not more than 15 years in prison.

Mr Lartey emphasised that the FDA and the police were working together to arrest drug peddlers. He said several arrests had also been made in that regard.

He, however, appealed to the police to be vigilant in arresting all perpetrators, especially those who sold in vehicles.