By Asmau Ahmad
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has advised Nigerians not to consume fruits ripened with calcium carbide to avoid health complications.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, gave the warning in her keynote address during the South-South Zone media sensitisation workshop on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state on Thursday.
Adeyeye, who was represented by Dr Leonard Omokpariola, Director, Chemical Evaluation & Research, said that consuming such artificially ripened fruits could result in sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, kidney problems and cancer.
She said that calcium carbide is alkaline in nature and erodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region and disrupts intestinal functions.
The DG said that NAFDAC has commenced campaigns in the nooks and crannies of the country to eradicate the menace of using calcium carbide to ripen fruits and hawking of drugs.
“Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.
“They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so on.
“Higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema).
“Acetylene produced by Calcium Carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia.
“The impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral oedema (swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids), sleepiness, seizure,” Adeyeye said.
Adeyeye also urged Nigerians not to patronise drugs by hawkers.
The director general added that the menace of drug hawking posed a serious challenge to the healthcare delivery system in the country, stressing that NAFDAC has resolved to totally eradicate the illicit trade.
She said that drug hawkers knowingly or unknowingly were merchants of death, who exposed essential and life-saving medicines to the vagaries of inclement weather.
“Drug hawkers are also the major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks, including armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and armed robbers.
“Drug Hawkers constitute a serious threat to our national security,” Adeyeye said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the NAFDAC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, said Nigeria was undaunted with so many fake drugs that must be eliminated to serve the health of Nigerians.
Jimoh said the sensitisation workshop was to partner with journalists and stakeholders to educate the public on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide.
He assured Nigerians that the menace of drug hawking must be exterminated from society to ensure the health of Nigerians.