Starting August 2016, Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority will roll out a ban on the importation of products that contain a skin-lightening chemical, Hydroquinone.
Speaking to Ghana media, FDA spokesperson James Lartey said:
‘Concerning skin lightening products, we are saying that from August 2016, all products containing hydroquinone like Fair & Lovely will not be allowed into the country. From 2016, the acceptance for skin lightening products is going to be zero.’
The ban is hoped to deter people from using such products and hopefully encourage other nations to crack down on a harmful and archaic practice.
A Huffington Post report has shown that the chemical can have harmful side effects like skin irritation, blistering and discolouration. It has also been suggested that the chemical is linked to skin cancer.
Hydroquinone is commonly used by people across Caribbean, African and West African countries for skin bleaching. According to the World Health Organisation, Nigerian women use skin lightening products more than any other nation with more than 70 percent of Nigerian women admitting to using such products despite the health hazards. That compares with 59 percent in Togo, and 27 in Senegal.
Increased use of these products is argued to be the result of colourism – where people especially women are discriminated for having darker skin complexions, and as a result those with lighter skin are favoured receiving better opportunities and treatment in society.
A number of high profile celebrities have been accused of using such products to lighten their skin.
Ghana will join countries like Cote d’ Ivoire, Australia, United States and Japan which have also banned skin bleaching products.