Accra, Feb. 17, GNA - Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC), has condemned parents who bleach the skins of their children.
She said the act was illegal and amounted to abuse of the human rights of such children, since it exposed their fragile skins to multiple infections and skin disorders.
Mrs Azumah-Mensah expressed the worry in a speech read for her by Mrs Evelyn Agyimfra, Director of Administration (MOWAC), at the re-launch of Ghana Society of Dermatology (GSD), in Accra on Friday.
Mrs Azumah-Mensah said reports reaching the Ministry indicated an increase in reported cases of skin diseases and disorders at the various Out-Patient Departments of health facilities across the country.
She said it shameful that some women would go to every length irrespective of the consequences to enhance the colour of their skins in order to be seen as beautiful.
She cautioned that apart from the physical effect of bleaching, some skin bleaching products could be absorbed into the body and result in ailments such as hypertension, osteoporosis, which was the softening of the bones and therefore easily breakable and cause cancers, liver and kidney disorders.
Mrs Azumah-Mensah said since children had very low immune systems and their skins were softer, applying such harsh chemicals on their skins could amount to committing suicide or killing them slowly.
She said some Ghanaians continued to bleach their skins with impunity, despite the numerous warnings and education by the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) and other advocates on the use of cosmetics containing harmful chemicals such as hydroquinone.
Mrs Azumah-Mensah explained that the persistent use of creams with hydroquinone results in the lightening of the skin, as it removed the outer and protective covering of the skin, and with time leaving such bleached skins with scars and much darker than they were before.
She called on stakeholders including the media to intensify advocacy on the strict enforcement on the ban of cosmetics containing hydroquinone and other harmful chemicals.
Mrs Azumah-Mensah said MOWAC would work in collaboration with the FDB to ensure that such products which found their way into the Ghanaian markets were regularly seize and destroyed and vendors punished.
Mrs Magaret Lartey, President of GSD, however, said the seizure of such creams, though could minimise the problem was not a panacea to changing the mind set of people, who had become so addictive to the practice.
She said such chemicals would always find their way into the country as a result of the free trade system between neighbouring countries.
Mrs Lartey said the Society intended to ensure healthy skin for Ghanaians through advocacy, education and training as well as ensure quality treatment of all skin disorders.
“We also intend to collaborate with the Ministry of Health to train and polish our members which include key practitioners such as doctors, dermatology assistants and dermatologist, to be more vibrant and resourceful to areas of the country with the most needed assistance in skin health care.
Mrs Lartey expressed concern about the increase in Out Patient Department cases across health institutions country-wide, indicating a high incidence of various skin diseases and disorders, which in most cases could be related to poor hygiene and the excessive use of cosmetics that contain a harmful chemical known as hydroquinone, which remove the outer covering of the skin making it lighter and susceptible to infections.
Mrs Lartey called for the support and involvement of stakeholders including the media to educate and inform the public on the need to maintain healthy skin and support the fight against skin bleaching in Ghana.