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Opinions of Thursday, 1 August 2013

Columnist: Adjetey, Emmanuel

National issue: our health our wealth?

By: Adjetey Emmanuel

For it is often said that health is wealth. But the question is how many Ghanaians consider what they usually consume as medicine?

I believe you will agree with me that most Ghanaians are ignorant of some of the drugs sold to them at the pharmacy shops. It is a fact since more than half of the country’s population is uneducated. They are eventually brainwashed to purchase unregistered and fake medicines to consume. Besides, what baffles me most is that majority of the pharmacy shops still have and sell some expired drugs in the country. This reminds me in 2011 when an expired medicine, Quinaquin, was sold to a two year old girl which made this innocent young girl paralyzed. Where are we going as a nation? If some unscrupulous people can have the gut to sell an expired drugs to their fellow human being wickedly to ruined their lives.

Besides, we live in a country full of self-seeking and sadist people who always want the best for only themselves. Hence, I will not be surprised to know if some pharmacy shops still sell some banned drugs like the chloroquine. The medicine in question thus chloroquine was banned in 2004 due to the medicine losing its efficacy and potency because it was said that the parasite that causes malaria developed resistance to the chloroquine. Fortunately, the chloroquine was then replaced with Artesunate Amodiaquine which was then affectionately called AA. But, because we still live with depraved people who only enjoy inflicting others to pain, some quack pharmacists in the country still went on selling this medicine. With this analogy, I’m of the conviction that other banned drugs would still be in some chemist shops.

A recent study has also revealed that the most commonly faked drugs which are imported into the country include antibiotics, antimalarial drugs, anti-diabetics and aphrodisiacs. Some drugs are also counterfeited by illegal local producers. The trade in fake or substandard drugs is booming in the country because those involved are earning huge profits as a result of weak regulatory measures by the authorities, whereas our law enforcement is slack.

Again, another delicate side of the issue is the recent high patronage of aphrodisiac drugs. I will not astonish to know if there are chemist shops selling only these aphrodisiac drugs. From my observation, I have noticed that in recent times the demand for the drug is very high and mostly by the youth. Now, the questions are, have these drugs been examined? And registered by the Food and Drugs Board? Also are they safety to be consumed and could their efficacy be guaranteed? And even though, if these aphrodisiac medicines efficacy could be guaranteed on the other side of the coin these same drugs also have their negative effect to the health of the consumers. So, I deem it wise for the Ghana Health Service to collaborate with the Food and Drugs Board to make sure they caution the public against their excessive use of these medicines or the drugs especially the youth.

Moreover, as a nation we are also at risk owing to the recent influx of counterfeit drugs being imported into the country. Besides, on the account of, the tenets of free trade system some international criminal groups take advantage of this system to importing fake and substandard drugs into the country. Despite the fact that, these fake drugs could be moved into the country but we all know it is the sole duty of our National Securities and the Food and Drugs Board to make sure any medicines imported into the country are not fake or substandard. Because, if they failed to execute their duties the ordinary citizens in the country would greatly be at risk by using these drugs.

Furthermore, I have also noticed that, most people prefer buying medicines in the open markets and in buses. It is high time for people to know that some medicines sold to them in the open places could be fake, expired or unregistered by the Food and Drugs Board and they could also be injurious to their health. For that reason, it is the duty of the government to protect her citizens. In addition, other designated bodies like the Pharmacy Council of Ghana, Food and Drugs Board and the Ghana Health Service must continue to caution the general public to be wary of counterfeit and expired drugs being sold especially in the open markets and in buses.

As the saying goes “Don’t try to cure a headache it’s better to cure the thing that causes it.” I therefore entreat the Ministry of Health (MoH) to join forces with other subordinated bodies to promote the awareness, inform and also to educate the public about the influx of counterfeit drugs in the country. Besides, the Food and Drugs Board must also stand firm to making sure that any company or any individual producing any kind of medicine that so-called medicine must be thoroughly scrutinized before that product comes out to the market.

Also, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) must also make sure that pharmacies in the country must be managed by competent and well trained pharmacists. But what do we normally see? People who are not pharmacists are practicing pharmacy in most pharmacy shops in the country.

My fellow citizens be very conscious and extra vigilant with any medicine you might one day buy at any pharmacy shop. Never hesitate to examine the medicine or even interrogate the pharmacist about the medicine because your health is your wealth.

Credit: Adjetey Emmanuel Email: adjeteyemmanuel@gmail.com, the writer is a freelance journalist based in Tema. To read of articles visit www.newsinventory.blogspot.com Tel: 0247265478