The National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has intensified its efforts to combat the alarming issues of drug hawking and the artificial ripening of fruits across Nigeria. Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director General of NAFDAC, delivered a resolute message during the launch of the NAFDAC Media Sensitisation Workshop in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. The workshop focused on raising awareness about the perils associated with drug hawking and the unsafe use of Calcium Carbide for ripening fruits.

Dr. Leonard Omopariola, the Director of Chemical Evaluation and Research at NAFDAC, represented Prof. Adeyeye at the event. The Director General expressed grave concern over the health hazards posed by these illicit practices and underscored NAFDAC’s commitment to combat them. To this end, NAFDAC has already taken significant measures, including media campaigns, intelligence-based enforcement, and market raids resulting in the confiscation and destruction of harmful products.

The media sensitisation workshop aims to bolster NAFDAC’s collaboration with the Association of Health Journalists in Nigeria. This partnership seeks to empower and educate journalists to take a proactive role in eradicating these detrimental activities from Nigerian society.

Addressing the menace of drug hawking, Prof. Adeyeye highlighted the potential dangers posed by counterfeit, substandard, or expired drugs sold by unregulated vendors. She stressed that these drug hawkers not only compromise the health of unsuspecting buyers but also fuel criminal networks by supplying narcotic medicines to armed groups. Prof. Adeyeye issued a stern warning that any drug hawker apprehended by NAFDAC will face prosecution and imprisonment; as the agency is currently conducting nationwide enforcement operations.

Regarding the artificial ripening of fruits using Calcium Carbide, Prof. Adeyeye shed light on the adverse effects on fruit quality; including loss of color, taste, and aroma. Calcium Carbide, when combined with water, releases acetylene, a chemical that mimics ethylene and induces fruit ripening. However, this practice poses severe health risks due to impurities present in Calcium Carbide, such as arsenic and lead particles.

Dr. Chike Obiano, NAFDAC Zonal Director for South-east and South-south, emphasized the pivotal role of the media in NAFDAC’s mission. He acknowledged the media’s influence in raising public awareness and supporting NAFDAC’s objectives.

Additionally, NAFDAC announced its collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to address the issue of drug hawking. Recognizing the danger it poses to public health, NAFDAC aims to curb this menace by enlisting the support of NYSC members and officials.

NAFDAC’s unwavering commitment to curbing drug hawking and artificial fruit ripening underscores the agency’s dedication to public safety and well-being. Through collaboration, awareness, and enforcement, NAFDAC aims to create a safer environment for all Nigerians; free from the threats posed by these harmful practices.

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