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FOOD VENDORS’ UNSAFE PRACTICES PUTTING BUYERS AT RISK OF LIVER, KIDNEY DISEASES‌

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FOOD VENDORS’ UNSAFE PRACTICES PUTTING BUYERS AT RISK OF LIVER, KIDNEY DISEASES‌
By Tope Omogbolagun

It was on a rainy day when Tobi Odukoya and her husband decided to get some groceries around Agungi, Lekki area of Lagos State when they saw a fruit seller storing some mangoes in the gutter.

The astonished woman started to shout Lat the fruit vendor selling the fruits.

Odukoya while filming the fruit seller said, “What are you doing? You are soaking mangoes inside gutter and you will bring it out and sell to people right? God will punish you.”

Few days after the video went viral; the mango seller who was caught in the act was arrested and forced into the car by officials.

The trader was ordered to pick out all the fruits he kept inside the gutter water for preservation before selling to buyers in the Agungi.

The one-minute video showed that the fruits seller was forced to pick out the fruits after a resident raised the alarm of the vendor’s unhygienic activity.

Although the unnamed food vendor was arrested, there are many others like him perhaps even close to him also engaging in unhealthy practices to make huge gains.

His colleagues beside him seemed to be familiar with the process, hence the reason they were looking at him while he carried out the act.

Such act as soaking mangoes inside gutters doesn’t seem strange to the fruit sellers as some of them who interacted with our correspondent said that they were aware that people do it but denied engaging in such.

A fruit seller in Lagos identified only as Abdul told Sunday PUNCH that most of the fruit sellers were usually looking for dubious means to make more money, thereby engaging in unhealthy practices to get what they wanted.

He said, “I know people use gutter water to ripen fruits such as mangoes and bananas. What they do is that they buy mangoes that are not mature. They usually don’t get ripened on time and because of this, they use gutter water to ripen them. Some even use chemicals. The water has chemicals in it, so it works faster in a day or two days. The fruits will get ripened and after washing it, it becomes fresh.”

This isn’t the only unsafe practice some of the fruit vendors engage in. It is rather becoming a menace in society.

A resident around Ekoro road axis of Abule-Egba, Lagos, Mrs Sade Kareem, said she stopped buying fruits from such roving vendors the day she saw the source of the water used in cleaning their fruits.

She said, “I was on maternity leave then and I strolled to that Abule Egba roundabout to get some fruits; cucumber precisely, I got the shock of my life when I saw some mallams (food vendors) fetching water from a broken pipe in a dirty ditch. He mixed both the dirty and the clean water to wash the fruits.

“I was so shocked that the craving for the fruits disappeared. I was worried for a while knowing that I had been eating from such a dirty place. Thankfully, a friend warned me earlier to always thoroughly wash fruits or vegetables with salt and water.”

She added that it was the last time she bought fruits or food from road sellers. Kareem added, “Since then whatever fruits I need, I buy from reliable stores, especially reputable malls. I buy in large quantities and store it in a fridge. If one is not careful, these people can make one die prematurely.”

Kareem isn’t the only one with such a horrible experience, another woman identified only as Chioma also spoke about her experience with fruit sellers especially those hawking fruits using wheelbarrows. She described her experience as awful which makes her cringe anytime she remembers.

She narrated that garden eggs were the fruits in season at the time and she wanted to eat some. She stated that she had some groundnuts to spice it and decided to stroll to get some garden eggs at the junction where some of the food vendors usually stayed.

Chioma said, “I got caught up in fear after seeing the evil perpetrated by the vendors. While he moved to stay at the junction, his wheelbarrow fell and the garden eggs fell into the gutter. He picked both the ones that fell on the floor and the ones in the gutter.

“He brought them to his colleagues and they got him water to wash them. I got there exactly the time they were offloading them from the wheelbarrow to the buckets of water. I was horrified and asked them what they were doing? They told me they were cleaning the garden eggs. They didn’t feel remorseful at all.

“That was the last time I ever bought garden eggs or any other thing from them. If I wanted to buy anything urgently, I bought it from those who usually tie theirs in nylons. And before washing, I wash the fruits well with water and salt.”

Fears over poisonous acts by food vendors

Fruit vendors aren’t the only ones who have been found to commit such terrible acts, many food vendors and caterers are also involved in the act.

In a photo that went viral some weeks ago, a tricyclist was seen conveying exposed loaves of bread arranged on top of each other without a wrap or any covering around it.

The bread was obviously being moved from the bakery to be distributed to retailers who then insert each loaf in nylon to be bought by unsuspecting Nigerians for consumption.

At a workshop, the Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, said another major concern receiving attention from NAFDAC was the use of trucks previously used for transporting fertilisers and other agrochemicals or other hazardous materials for the transportation of grains and other food commodities including use of petroleum tankers for transporting vegetable oil, water, or other food products.

She listed some of the unhygienic practices by some vendors to include artificial ripening of fruits using unapproved agents such as calcium, use of unapproved insecticide such as sniper for the preservation of grains and use of containers contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as fertilizer bags for grains or chemical drums and jerry cans for food storage.

She said, “Display of food products in the sun, which could produce harmful by-products such as benzene in soft drinks, mock packs for display, use of cast iron as food processing machines or equipment and utilities, which contaminates foods being processed with lead and other heavy metals, storage to protect food product from infestation by rodent and pests as well as prevention of contamination and degradation due to environmental factors, adulteration of palm oil with Sudan IV (azo dye), which is a dangerous practice that puts the lives of millions of Nigerians and others at risk and food fraud, which include, packaging of illicit alcohol falsely labelled and sold as spirit drinks which have exposed the consumers to a high level of contaminants such as methanol, which could sometimes claim innocent lives.”

A caterer identified only as Mrs Amoo in a chat with our correspondent said that whenever they were boiling meat for parties, they usually add some enhancers to soften it.

She said, “It’s true that people use paracetamols to cook meat to soften it. I don’t usually use it though what I use is carbonated soft drinks. I use any one of them to soften meat. Sometimes, we use nails too and kaun (potash). We get new nails and pour them in the meat. Once the meat softens, we take out the nails and dispose them.’’

Amoo who said it was a common practice among some caterers, stated that they engaged in the practice to ensure that the hosts wouldn’t complain that the meat was tough.

She added, “People only take these things to the extreme. It’s not our intention to harm people. All the things we use like the soft drinks are what people consume naturally. It’s the same thing with the nails. Some people use them at home when cooking things like moin-moin and other things.’’

A plantain seller identified only as Mrs Michael shared similar view with Amoo. She didn’t see anything wrong in using carbide to ripen her plantains.

According to her, using artificial means makes the plantain ripen faster and it also makes it look good in appearance.

She said, “I don’t use carbide for everything. We buy in bulk from farmers. I usually buy plantains based on trees; whatever is on the tree is whatever I get. Some will be mature and almost ripened. Those ones get ripened the next day. In fact, I don’t cover them so they don’t become overripe. The other ones that aren’t ripened are the ones I use carbide for.

“Some people prefer the other ones ripened through artificial means because they come out fresh. The back is usually neat. We have to sell well and fast and make gains. I have competitors. I can’t afford to have goods today and not have the next day. Besides, people don’t eat the peels. It’s only the peels that come in contact with the carbide.”

Besides, Mrs Toun Oni, introduced a new dimension to the harmful practices when she said she stopped eating fufu (a staple food made from fermented cassava) as she claimed that some of the makers had started using bleaching condiments to ferment the cassava.

Oni said, “I no longer eat fufu. It’s my mother-in-law that told me that they caught some fufu sellers in her area adding bleach to their fufu. She said that after soaking the fufu, they add the bleaching ingredients to it to make extra profit.”

Some sellers of raw beans have also been caught pouring powerful miticide/insecticide to prevent pests from eating their beans.

A mother of three residing in Lagos Mrs Solape Adams said one of the reasons she buys beans in bulk is because of fear of what different sellers do nowadays not considering consumer health.

She said, “I saw a video of some raw beans sellers pouring insecticide on beans. It’s scary. I usually buy beans in bags. The good thing is that my children like beans. We eat beans often. I usually wash well before cooking. It seems people no longer have the fear of God and it’s sad.’’

Diseases associated with unhealthy food practices

Several health researchers have linked some of the unhealthy practices and dubious means employed by food vendors to lots of life-threatening issues such as liver and kidney diseases as well as different types of cancer.

Experts stated that calcium carbide often used by fruit vendors to ripen fruits like apples, mangoes, bananas, pawpaws, plantain and others could cause brain damage.

A study in the Annals of tropical medicine and public health journal buttressed that the use of carbide and other artificial ripening agents were hazardous to health.

It stated, “The fast ripening of fruits means they may contain various harmful properties. A commonly used agent in the ripening process is calcium carbide, a material most commonly used for welding purposes. Calcium carbide treatment of food is extremely hazardous because it contains traces of heavy metal arsenic and phosphorous. The calcium carbide produces acetylene gas when it reacts with water. Acetylene gas may affect the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia. Calcium carbide causes various health hazards like headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, sleepiness, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral edema and seizures.”

Also, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest on food dyes revealed that some of the most commonly used food dyes may be linked to numerous forms of cancer.

In addition to considerations of organ damage, cancer, birth defects, and allergic reactions, mixtures of dyes (and Yellow 5 tested alone) cause hyperactivity and other behavioural problems in some children.

In a placebo-controlled study conducted in 2007 and published in The Lancet journal 29, the work critically evaluated the effects of common food dyes found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings. The results showed that dyes studied caused some children to be more hyperactive and distractible.

“The three most widely used dyes; Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet it is still in the food supply,” it noted.

It was revealed that some of the food colourings were often used in palm oil and some other fruit juices and drinks consumed by Nigerians.

Also, a nutritionist and Chairman, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Dr Oluwatosin Adu, said ignorance and greed were the reasons people engage in unsafe food practices.

He said, “Ignorance is part of the reasons people do such things. When you look at issues more intently, you will see the passion to make more gain; they want to make much with little. We can’t say engaging in unhealthy food practices is solely caused by ignorance because as much as possible, people are making noise against them. But despite the noise, some people would not still desist from the acts.’’

Adu stated that it was important that people knew the health implications of their acts.

He stated, “There are natural meat tenderisers. They contain enzymes that soften the meat and they are not harmful. For example, pawpaw leaves. They are natural softeners. Our fathers usually used it to soften meat. It has no health hazards.’’

The nutritionist added that meat toughness could also be caused by how the cows were slaughtered at the abattoir

He stated, “The state of the cow before it is killed affects the general outcome of the meat. When an animal is stressed, and you kill it, the meat will be tough. If the animal is under a relaxed atmosphere, the meat will be softer.

“Some of these little things have a lot to do with the meat; it has nothing to do with the gender. Most times, it is the stress they put them through before killing them that causes whatever happens. Instead of using those unsafe things to soften food, they can wrap the meat in pawpaw leaves before cooking it.’’

Adu further described the health implications of the practices on the body as harmful to health leading to liver and kidney issues.

He said, “Kidney and liver problems and several types of cancers are a result of the excessive use of monosodium glutamate. People don’t measure the quantity but are only interested in making the food delicious. People need to be aware of it. Too much salt is also harmful and that is usually the cause of hypertension, liver disorder and even cancer.

“The major organ that suffers these things is the liver. It’s the metabolism for regulating everything that gets into the body.

“When the liver is over-laboured, it breaks down. The liver is usually the first point of call. And because the effect is usually not immediate, the body continues to store the toxins in the body, and over time, it begins to break them.

“Once the liver is affected, soon the kidney will break down because the two of them work hand-in-hand. This is one of the major reasons why liver and kidney transplant is on the increase. You will realise that one person needs a liver today and another needs a kidney and other things. This is a major cause although we haven’t come out to state this categorically it is a major link.”

The nutritionist further added that unhealthy practices could lead to gastrointestinal diseases. He stated, “In a viral video, a fruit hawker was seen using gutter water to wash the fruits; it is a sheer act of uncleanness. I am sure that even the seller will eat from it. Such practices usually cause microbial load. And by the time a person stores a whole lot of microbes, it leads to gastrointestinal issues.’’

In his submission, Dr. Bamidele Omotola said that the implication of such unhealthy practices varied as each of the unhealthy practices had its health implication.

He said, “The implication of these unhealthy food activities by these vendors are numerous and each of them has its own implication on the health of the consumers. Such unhealthy practice is the panacea for foodborne diseases and there are many of them.”

The nutritionist added that an instance of the effect of such practices was typhoid caused by faecal contamination of food.

Omotola added, “We have heard of typhoid which is caused by faecal contraction. That means they have had to consume faeces either theirs or someone else’s.

“If someone uses dirty water to cook, anyone who eats the food is bound to come down with cholera. For instance, anyone who eats the fruits stored or washed in the gutter would, first of all, come down with a stomach ache, then have cholera.”

Omotola also said that artificial ripening of fruits and food colouration had lots of effects on the body especially relating to cancer.

He stated, “Artificial process of fruit ripening also has its own danger because of the chemicals used such as carbide. Sudan red used in colouring palm oil is one of the causes of different cancers.’’

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COVID-19 NIGERIA: GOD, OR VOODOO ARITHMETIC?

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COVID-19 NIGERIA: GOD, OR VOODOO ARITHMETIC?

By Fola Ojo

It commenced as a localised endemic in Wuhan, China. From there, its mangling metastasis hit South Korea, Italy, Japan, Iran, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Few weeks after, it spiralled down into a few African nations including my beloved Nigeria. The manifestation of the novel disease coronavirus or COVID-19, did not consciously hit the world until around January, this year. In the aftermath, humanity slid into a panic mode. From a few numbers of cases, headcounts from the effects of the rabid virus shot up into thousands infected, and thousands more human beings losing the breath of life. While developed nations with cutting edge healthcare system were and are still counting horror numbers in citizens infected, hospitalised, and dead, Nigeria is recording far lower even than an average nation whose citizens are in strict obedience to preventative protocols against the virus.

Recently, I saw a picture of some family members in an event in Lagos where no single person had a mask even in their pockets. They left their homes with no shred of thoughts about the dangers of COVID-19. While the mask-culture has become a lifestyle in America where I live, what I observe in Nigeria makes me think that the country must not be on planet earth. I asked my sister why nobody had a mask on. She responded: “Boda mi, there is no koro in Naija oooo. Koro is dead”. I asked a few pastor friends of mine who live in Nigeria. Many of them had similar responses: “It’s God oooo. We have prayed Koro away from Naija”. Do we not pray in America; or my friends in the United Kingdom don’t know how to seek God’s face? Does God hate the rest of the world where men are bundled in body-bags and six feet below as a result of COVID-19? Please somebody tell me what is the magic against COVID-19 in Nigeria? Is it God; or voodoo arithmetic headcount? It has to be God, indeed!

According to Nigerian government data, as of today, about 57,000 cases have been recorded, 44, 000 have recovered, and 1,088 deaths. I still want to know the Nigerian magic against COVID-19. People cluster in markets with no masks. They agglutinate at feverish owambe parties without facial coverings. They dance; they sing; they carry on as if nothing is in the air. Where masks are worn, they are like malfunction wardrobes. Coverings are strapped around the chin, neck, mouth, leaving the nostrils wide open for deadly droplets to inhabit their nasal cavities. And you believe coronavirus cases are accurately rock-bottom low in Naija? Is this God; or voodoo arithmetic headcounts? It must be God!

When I think about how Nigeria arrested Ebola Virus Disease at its killer throes, a part of me wants to stand in obeisance to Nigeria’s unusual tactics and strategies arresting ravaging viruses. It truly must be God. An infected Liberian man who arrived Lagos by air brought Ebola virus into Nigeria on July 20, 2014. Five days later, the man died. But he had already set off a raging fire of the virus in Nigeria’s commercial capital with about 23 million people. Who in Nigeria will forget Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, the Lead Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist at a private hospital in Lagos? Adadevoh had never seen Ebola before but was able to diagnose and contain Nigeria’s first-ever Ebola patient. The outbreak was effectively controlled by authorities garnering support from the private sector and international community. Eight people died; and 12 infected were nursed back to good health.

Reports of the effect of COVID-19 in Africa, especially in Nigeria, have shocked scientists around the world. Factors like population density; and crowding in poverty-stricken neighbourhoods that make social distancing impossible should have been scientifically considered enhancers and facilitators of a wild and wide spread of the virus. But these factors have obviously worked in the opposite direction. The expectation all along had been that Nigeria should be one of the worst-hit; but that is not the case. Nigeria is doing better than many nations both with regard to cases and casualties. Experts around the world also agree that even if cases are underreported in Nigeria, the nation is doing well regarding her approach to COVID-19.

The UK’s top virologist Professor Shabir Madhi told the BBC News regarding COVID-19 and Africa: “I thought we were heading towards a disaster, a complete meltdown.” The UK’s top virologist echoed what others must have thought about the African coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this year, the monster-virus sneaked into Nigeria from Europe and the UK en-route the United States. Travellers from these two hotspots who were determined to circumvent America’s travel ban order on their citizens took advantage of Nigeria’s Business e-visa initiative rolled out last year to ease international business.

It allows business investors to apply online for a visa before travelling to Nigeria. These cruel and crafty travellers from the UK and other European countries exploited the loophole to facilitate their travels through the Delta Airlines’ direct flight to Atlanta. When I received this information, I quickly contacted Nigeria’s Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, about considering shutting down the nation’s borders to people travelling by air from outside of the country who might be carriers of the deadly virus. Three days after, the Federal Government announced a travel restriction to passengers from 13 countries attempting to enter Nigeria.

For those Nigerians who are still downplaying the gruesomeness of this virus, rethink. Ask those who have seen the virus in action with its terror fangs. Ask anyone who has once experienced it; or who knows someone in the cruel claws of the pandemic. I am sure their testaments will give you a clearer picture of the virulence of the virus. To my sister who said that God has killed COVID-19 in Nigeria, I say a loud Amen! She knows I also believe in God. And I also believe in God’s word that says “Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom…” Wisdom is not the vice-principal, or deputy to anything. It is the main thing. It is the Commander-In-Chief. That is why for now, until the world gets a medicinal intervention or preventative vaccine, when you find yourself in a large gathering of people, strap on your mask, stay six-feet distant from the next person; and sanitise your hands often.

– Follow me on Twitter @folaojotweet

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• NCDC, experts differ on ending face masks, temperature checks

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CORONAVIRUS:

• NCDC, experts differ on ending face masks, temperature checks

…It’s when COVID-19 vaccine is found, says Centre

…Nigeria has to be certified free first, virologist declares

…NMA president says nobody can predict the time

…Cost-weary citizens do away with shields

There seems no end yet for temperature checks and use of face masks as experts, on Thursday, expressed diverse positions on when Nigerians should do away with the shield and the checks.

These, among other measures, were introduced to prevent citizens from contracting or spreading the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. But it is noticeable across the country that many citizens have abandoned the use of masks and doing temperature checks.

While the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says Nigerians should continue with face masks until an effective vaccine is found, some medical experts say there is no conclusion yet on the matter because the biology and epidemiology of COVID-19 are not well understood at the moment.

A virologist and Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, told The Guardian that the measures should not be ended “until a country is declared free of the disease, like polio-free status, or maybe no case reported for a period of time, like two times the maximum incubation period in the face of reliable surveillance, adequate laboratory testing and efficient contact tracing.”

He wondered when the time would come.

Similarly, the President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Prof. Innocent Ujah, painted a picture of a long time waiting for the end of the virus. He said, “It is too early to know when to stop wearing face masks or stop temperature checks. Nobody at the moment could be very categorical about the two issues raised. The biology and epidemiology of COVID-19 is not well understood at the moment.”

While the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, and Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Prof. Bode Chris, told The Guardian the virus could only be said to have ended “when COVID-19 is officially declared over by the government, based on scientific evidence of such,” the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said the end would not be certified “until we are sure the epidemic curve has flattened and cases have gone down to single-digit per day.”

A vaccinologist, former researcher at the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and founder/CEO of Innovative Biotech, Keffi, Nasarawa State, Dr. Simon Agwale, told The Guardian: “I think we can only stop wearing masks or using temperature checks when we find an effective vaccine. Without this, it will be risky to stop wearing masks.”

MEANWHILE, the NCDC has advised Nigerians to wear face masks every day until a vaccine is found for COVID-19.

The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told The Guardian that with the non-availability of a vaccine that could prevent COVID-19, citizens must depend on non-pharmaceutical measures such as use of face masks, handwashing, social distancing and management of confirmed cases to mitigate the impact of the disease.

“Studies have shown that the correct use of face masks is critical to reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. We encourage people and businesses around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask properly every day until a vaccine that prevents infection is readily accessible to all citizens,” he said.

Ihekweazu, who is also an epidemiologist, emphasised that the use of masks is a key component of Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) procedures in medical and non-medical settings.

He stressed that given the widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in Nigeria, strict adherence to using of masks in public spaces, particularly where physical distancing might not be practical, could slow the spread of the virus.

“The appropriate use of a face mask is one of the comprehensive non-pharmaceutical preventive and control measures adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19 by preventing respiratory droplet transmission. Masks can also be used by healthy persons to reduce exposure,” he said.

Ihekweazu said the NCDC, in its effort to strengthen IPC in health facilities, had continued to prioritise training of health workers and supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks, to state facilities.

“As Nigeria’s public health institute, we will continue to provide periodic advisories on face mask usage, including making and care of reusable cloth masks,” he said.

Ihekweazu added: “Firstly, there is scientific evidence that wearing face masks reduces the risk of spread of COVID-19. Also, the early detection of high temperature can help to reduce contacts between those that are healthy and others who may have been infected.

“It is very important we do not stop these public health and safety measures. Even when a vaccine is made available for population-use, it is not a magic bullet. We may still be required to adhere to certain measures to protect ourselves in addition to the vaccine, in certain circumstances.

“For now, there is a risk of further spread of COVID-19 if people do not adhere to public health and safety measures such as wearing a face mask in public settings, hand-washing, physical distancing and others.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), medical face masks should be worn primarily by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, health workers and people who are taking care of people with COVID-19 in closed settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

As arguments and different opinions persist on the right time to stop the use of face masks and temperature checks, it has been observed that many citizens are fast leaving their faces unshielded, perhaps because of the costs of changing the masks regularly.

Citizens buy face shields from hawkers at costs not factored by those who insist they must wear them.

Even some organisations have stopped giving masks to their workers, exposing them to the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

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NDLEA, HEALTH WORKERS WORRIED ABOUT SPIKE IN MARIJUANA SMOKING

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NDLEA, HEALTH WORKERS WORRIED ABOUT SPIKE IN MARIJUANA SMOKING

‌By Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has expressed concerns over the sudden increase in the number of cannabis smokers in the country, warning that it could have a dire consequence for the country.

The NDLEA is not alone with this concern as health workers have also warned that cannabis smokers are more susceptible to getting infected with COVID-19.

Cannabis smoking is the inhalation of smoke or vapours released by heating the flowers, leaves, or extracts of cannabis and releasing the main psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol, which is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs.

Since the Federal Government’s pronouncement of lockdown in states affected by COVID-19, there has been heightened report of how local cannabis sellers are embracing trading on the dark web, online vending of cannabis and other psychotropic substances online.

It could be recalled that the NDLEA had warned on June 23, 2020, that the COVID-19 lockdown in states affected by COVID-19 could give rise to drug addiction and experimentation of newer concoctions.

Chairman of the agency, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (retd.) gave the warning at a virtual news briefing to commemorate the 2020 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Abuja.

“In the light of the prevailing atmosphere of COVID-19, drug-dependent persons are more acutely at risk because of their usually attendant underlying health issues, social stigmatization, and the dearth of access to health care.

“Making matters worse is the fact that the front burner currently is the exclusive pressure of COVID-19, other matters less so. That is why there has never been time much worse for drug-dependent persons. The lockdown merely accentuated the dilemma,” he said.

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