The Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) in its bid to ensure the safety of Ghanaians, will in 2013 strictly enforce its laws to ensure that those who violate the law are prosecuted.
“With the passage of the Public Health law, we have the full legal backing to prosecute importers, retailers, and members of the general public who violate the law”, Mr James Lartey, Public Affairs Director of FDA told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Thursday.
The new Public Health Law, which has the objective of promoting public health and well-being, strengthen the public health infrastructure, provide essential public health services and functions, identify roles and responsibilities of public health agencies and encouraging communities to create and maintain a healthy environment, was passed on July 11, 2012 by Parliament and received Presidential assent in November, 2012.
Mr Lartey said the Authority will institute educational programmes with its stakeholders which included the judiciary, media, importers, exporters, retailers and market women to educate them on their roles in the services they rendered.
“Assessing our activities embarked on in this year has revealed that we need to intensify our education and training programmes using drama series, short documentaries, jingles and work closely with the NCCE to achieve all these”.
He explained that the FDA attached seriousness to the fight against the importation, distribution and use of counterfeit drugs, unwholesome and expired food substances and will do all it could to ensure the safety of Ghanaians.
Mr Lartey noted that the year 2012 had been very successful with lots of swoops conducted in collaboration with the Ghana Police to get rid of unwholesome products that endangered the lives of consumers.
Recounting some of the activities undertaken in the course of the year 2012, Mr Lartey said FDA impounded fake products such as Hord’s Cocoa Powder, imported and distributed by Buchberger Enterprise located at Batsonaa on the Spintex Road, assorted fake alcoholic beverages and gallons of flavourings.
Others included fake J.H. Heneken’s Schnapps, J.H Captain’s schnapps, Castle Bridge London Dry Gin, re-bagged rice, weavle-infested rice, unwholesome fish, sanitary pads, counterfeit detergents, unwholesome cooking oil as well as inspection and licensing of street food vendors.
“We are working to protect consumers but realising that majority of the population is still illiterate, we need to reach them with more education and exposure so that these companies, producers and distributors do not come up with ways of sneaking their fake products into the rural areas where they are most likely to exploit the ignorance of the masses.
“Our attention will also be shifted to radio stations who do advertisements for these manufacturers now that the new law is more explicit on what diseases must be and must not be mentioned on air”, he added.
Mr Lartey noted that though the FDA sent most of its cases to court for prosecution, the delay in prosecuting manufacturers, importers and distributors who fell foul of the law was another major problem that must be addressed.
He called for the fast-tracking of cases that had to do with the health and safety of the people so the culprits could be clamped down upon as soon as possible.