Nigerians have expressed various reactions following the report carried out by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, titled “Honey Products with NAFDAC Number Impure, Compromise Health.”
The report, which was amplified by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, on its program- Public Conscience on Radio, received numerous calls exposing food and drug products considered unhealthy in popular stores and markets.
The report revealed that five different brands of honey bought in different shops were found to contain deadly impurities after a laboratory examination though they carried NAFDAC certifications.
A staff of NAFDAC was found to be involved in carrying out improper certification during the investigations.
Spokesman for NAFDAC Jimoh Abubakar admitted the challenge but says unscrupulous traders and manufacturers use the certification numbers of genuine manufacturers.
Callers to the program revealed more of the unwholesome practices.
A caller, Mr. Keki from Suleja, called in to lament over the impure sachet water with imprinted NAFDAC number. From his investigations, he said about twelve thousand packs of the sachet water were to be sold to the public, even after the manufacturer discovered impurities and has no experience in hygienic water packaging
Another contributor to the program, Mr. Thomas Meshack from Central Area, lauded NAFDAC for a job well done, but encouraged the agency to intensify its efforts, adding the public has no expertise in identifying fake products, that NAFDAC is responsible for citizens wellbeing.
Meshack narrated purchasing a popular packaged sausage product without NAFDAC reg. no. and was forced to return it. He revealed there are numerous unregistered products in the market and NAFDAC is overwhelmed, needing the assistance of government for effectiveness.
Also, Suleiman Yahaya who called in from Garki 2, seek to understand the difference between NAFDAC Approved and Registered Nos., while explaining that many product producers/manufacturers claim to have either numbers, which is unclear whether it proves Certification from NAFDAC or okays the product for consumption.
Meanwhile, Abdul from Life Camp, disagrees that NAFDAC is doing a lot. He said the agency’s function mainly is to protect citizens Healthwise. “NAFDAC lacks the manpower to carry out its duty, but we have intelligent people jobless out there, why not just engage them?” he asked.
Ibrahim from Gwagwalada reported a practical experience where he purchased a drug and later confirmed was fake despite having NAFDAC no. and verification code.
He directed NAFDAC’s attention to the department in-charge of the scratch-pin verification codes, urging them to be thorough in ensuring the confirmation messages are genuine.
Temitope, another caller from Abuja suggested that ICIR should look into the number of breads without labels entering into the markets, while Christian in Abuja charged NAFDAC to embark on routine checks on products already approved.
Tom from Lugbe, a former Clearing Agent, gave a brief history of NAFDAC No. He disclosed that the likes of NAFDAC and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, among others, observed the proliferation of imported drugs and had to imbibe a level of regulation.
He said the Late NAFDAC DG, Dora Akunyili, emphasized on the reg. no. and ensured that any importer of drugs must register with NAFDAC so as to identify and differentiate non-registered products.
“Because there was registration of drugs with NAFDAC before it comes in, importers became afraid that if they import fake drugs now, they can easily be traced.” Speaking authoritatively, Tom stressed that importers were stopped from importing because they were not registered.
He opined that some of the new NAFDAC staff are not aware of this history because it occurred about 20years ago.
Lastly, Sam Oluyemi, from Masaka, suggested that NAFDAC should respond to consumers’ acquisition of the authenticity of a drug by replying only the name of the product.