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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Columnist: dailyguideafrica.com

A timely wakeup call

The importance of understanding the dangers associated with chemical abuse has largely been marginalized in our communities because we take things for granted, and of course, much to our disadvantage.

The death at the 37 Military Hospital of three kids from the same parents is a case in point, one which should not have happened at all had the necessary precautions been taken.

The manufacturers of the chemical Toptoxin, the chemical alleged to be responsible for the death of the kids had all the necessary literature about its toxicity. The critical thing missing was the caution necessary when using chemicals – something which runs across most Ghanaians.

In the first place, how did a chemical manufactured as indicated on the label for stored grains and seeds including fumigation ended up being used in a room?

Even when this particular chemical is going to be used for the purpose for which it was manufactured, overusing it beyond the recommended ratio to water can trigger fatality. We recall a case when some persons consumed waakye; the beans component of which was said to have been treated with an insecticide which kills weevils. The result was acute food poisoning requiring emergency medical attention.

For some Ghanaians, when the relevant regulatory state agencies of chemicals get busy to ensure that the right things are done, they find such activities a nuisance.

We are in a country where very dangerous and fatal chemicals are sold in a manner one could bet they do not pose any threat to life.

The situation which befell the unfortunate family could have been worse than what was recorded. Poor kids, they died through no fault of theirs. Their deaths can be attributed to a failed society.

In many parts of the country, both urban and rural, an assortment of poisonous substances are sold by persons who hardly understand the dangers posed by these chemicals yet their businesses are flourishing because crawling and flying insects must be eliminated.

Such unlettered users of the chemicals which are traded in alleys of both rural and urban areas, without doubt, have been responsible for undiagnosed ailments.

But for providence, the chemical which was responsible for the fatalities of the three kids would have passed unnoticed had they occurred perhaps in a place without advanced medical facilities.

There are so many chemicals in the country – some of them with little literature on them for users to understand what they intend using even when such patrons are lettered. Stubborn bedbugs can drive persons to buy any chemical with the power to eliminate the crawling blood suckers regardless of the side effects.

It is our position that relevant regulatory authorities are resourced sufficiently to discharge their statutory assignments so that children and others do not die avoidable deaths at the hand of chemical concocters.

It is unacceptable that people should die simply because they did not understand the efficacy of a chemical they bought to fight insect infestation.

Reading the name of the alleged substance whose inhalation killed the children: its toxicity was not in doubt even as the autopsy report on the deceased is yet to be made public.