The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana has resolved to ban the import and sale of cosmetic products which include skin bleaching ingredient hydroquinone, starting out from August this year. Cote d’Ivoire first led the charge to tackle skin bleaching in Africa by banning the practice within their country.
The decision by Ghana’s Food and Drug Authority forms part of a directive from the state’s Standard Authority, which is attempting to deter users of the cancer-causing chemical within the Ghanaian market. FDA spokesperson James Lartey confirmed the ban on the importation of skin bleaching products to news media. He told Starr FM in Accra;
“Concerning skin lightening products, we are saying that from August 2016, all products containing hydroquinone will not be allowed into the country. From 2016, the acceptance for skin lightening products is going to be zero,”
The issue of colorism which refers to the preference of lighter skin over dark skin has since taken hold even in Africa. Over 70% of women use skin lightening products in parts of Africa and the World Health Organisation has banned active ingredients of skin lighteners – hydroquinone and mercury – from being used in any unregulated skin products.
To that end, the use of hydroquinone products has been banned in the United States, Japan, Australia and the European Union, putting Ghana in very good company. Many people continue to laud the news of Ghana’s decision on social media, but some others question the point of the government’s decision to intervene in what they consider a private matter.
The use of skin bleaching products cannot be categorized as private however, because the chemical, cancer-causing elements contained in most of those products are detrimental to the health of the individual and therefore lead up to public health concerns.