Days after a ban was issued by Ghana’s neighbour, Cote d’Ivoire, on skin lightening products, the mantle has been passed onto the government of Ghana to heighten its checks on the influx of such harmful products onto the Ghanaian market.
Cote d’Ivoire, notable for the production of assorted skin lightening products, banned them because of “fears of lasting damage to health”, says the Ivorian health ministry.
The ban affects whitening creams and lotions containing mercury and its derivatives, cortisone, vitamin A or more than two percent hydroquinine, a lightening agent that is used to develop photographs.
“The number of people with side effects caused by these medicines is really high,” said Christian Doudouko, a member of Ivory Coast’s pharmaceutical authority, warning that they could cause skin cancer.
The use of the creams is increasing in Ghana and also believed to be even more widespread in Nigeria.
Every cosmetic shop in Makola Market, main market of the Central Business District of Accra displays varieties of skin lightening products with very attractive packaging and names mostly from Cote d’Ivoire.
Although the phenomenon of skin bleaching is not new and the effects visible on the streets of major cities of the country, a directive from government against its sale is yet to be conveyed.