A report of a global survey startled the Nigerian senate. The report showed that Nigerian 77 percent of Nigerian women were using bleaching creams, the highest in Africa. Mali came last with 25 percent.
Bleaching creams have been implicated in a plethora of cancers, skins disorders, endocrine defects, foetal disorder, child cancers, low sperm count, and many more.
The alarmed senate alerted the presidency calling for action. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, fired a memo giving marching orders to the relevant agencies.
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) went to war immediately.
The media wing of NAFDAC won approval to be in front of the war (I do not know how Abubakar Jimoh, director, Public Affairs did it along with Hassan Zaggi, national president of the National Association of Health Journalists (NAHJ). Applause to the CEO of NADAC, Moji Adeyeye PhD, who gave consent.
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Action! NAFDAC launched a nationwide media sensitisation. The war began in Abuja, the FCT. The wise eggs at NAFDAC seemed to understand the geopolitical sensitives of Nigeria and slated four cities in the north outside the FCT and four in the south, including PH.
In PH, Jimoh disclosed that over 600 journalists had been trained to lead the frontlines. Cosmetics industry has N1.1 trillion market in Nigeria and $32Bn globally.
In PH, other stakeholders such as pharmacists, chemicals importers, cosmetics makers, regulatory agencies, etc, were included and the hall on the first floor of the Federal Secretariat was full, all to underscore the criticality of the menace and the danger ahead. “The statistics of harms is too high especially liver cirrhosis. These diseases and organ damages are not caused only by food and bad drugs but also by cosmetics, etc.”
He admitted that enforcement is NAFDAC’s job but that they chose sensitisation/conscientisation as a way to recruit Nigerians into fighting the war by themselves.
It was noted that NAFDAC has only 3,000 workers to protect 210m people, but by the route of the media strategy, NAFDAC would make every Nigerian a soldier in this war. They would also target monarchs, clerics, and other segments that have large following.
According to Chike Obiano, ‘South-South Ag Director of NAFDAC, the PH Media leg was since due. He said media people have direct contact and influence on the populace and can thus carry the campaign against the menace of bleaching better and further.
He said the education-first approach did not mean NAFDAC did not know about enforcement. “We believe that when people are well informed on a policy and the harms of non-compliance, they would do self-compliance which is best.”
The NAHJ president, Zaggi, said whatever happens to the public or populace concerns the journalist. “We cannot allow Nigerians to perish in ignorance. People think bleaching is enjoyment or way to good living but its trouble to health. To fight, we must first understand this. Thus, capacity-building is very important. The ultimate is to let the public know the danger ahead.”