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‘Illegal peddling of drugs poses health risk’

BY: Felix A. Baidoo

The Ashanti Regional President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), Mr Seth Osei-Afriyie, has called on the government, as a matter of urgency, to resource the law enforcement agencies to enable them to fight illegal peddling of drugs in the country.

He described the sale of drugs and herbal products in buses, at lorry stations and in the rural areas by drug peddlers as alarming, and said some of them were not formally educated and unable to give the right prescriptions. He added that some of the drugs they sold had either expired or were fake.

Mr Osei-Afriyie was speaking to the Daily Graphic at a health-screening exercise to mark this year’s World Pharmacists Day in Kumasi.

Theme for the celebration

The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Access to Pharmacists is Access to Health”. The celebration emphasises the need for patients to see pharmacists, use their services, interact with them and benefit from their services.

The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), which is the global federation of the 127-member country association of pharmacists, instituted the World Pharmacists Day to educate the public on the useful, varied and impactful role of the pharmacists in healthcare all over the world.

The decision to celebrate the annual event was taken at the FIP Council meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, during the 2009 FIP Congress. The World Pharmacists Day has thus been celebrated since 2010. In Ghana, this is the second time the day is being celebrated.

Quack practitioners 

Mr Osei-Afriyie indicated that although the pharmaceutical industry’s role was to help improve upon the health of the people, the invasion of the sector by quacks and drug peddlers threatened the lives of the populace.

To help check the sale and use of fake drugs in the country, a new system has been adopted to check the authenticity of drugs. He therefore appealed to people to comply with the process, to help check the sale of fake drugs in the country.

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Mr Osei-Afriyie advised that people should not be swayed by advertisements to patronise herbal medicine, some of which were not safe. He urged patients to buy such drugs from recognised herbal practitioners who were certified.

The health screening saw 28 pharmacists attending to 1,340 people, including 871 females. Some of those who participated in the exercise were de-wormed on directly observed therapy (DOT), while 253 young ladies were counselled on safe use of emergency contraceptives, with over 422 counselled on safe use of over-the-counter drugs (OTCs).

They were also counselled on healthy lifestyle, exercising, good eating habits, balanced diet, maintaining ideal body weights, dangers of cigarette smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol.