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Experts warn against consumption of herbal concoctions, low quality water, food



Experts warn against consumption of herbal concoctions, low quality water, food

The rising cost of living in Nigeria has prompted the massive consumption of herbal concoctions, illicit drugs, unsterilized water (iced water), and food of low quality. This is as a result of the recent hike in food prices, the cost of sachet water, and drugs, especially imported drugs.

The soaring cost of sachet water has occasioned the rebirth of iced water, which was prominent in the 90s. In some areas in Nigeria, the price of sachet water increased from ₦200 per bag to ₦500 per bag, thereby causing a drastic decline in the sales of sachet water. Beverage hawkers are mostly affected by the drop in sales as they had to resort to selling iced water, which is supposedly prepared by boiling borehole water, and tying it in a transparent polyethylene bag before refrigerating it.

While the resurgence of iced water, consumption of herbal concoctions, and food of low quality are cost-effective alternatives, medical experts have raised concerns over the probable health risks associated with drinking untreated water, taking herbal concoctions, and consuming food of low quality.

In addition to this, experts have warned against the purchase of drugs from drug hawkers, who usually sell them in buses, in market places and at bus stops, stating that these drugs, which the hawkers claim can treat about 15 health conditions, are counterfeit drugs that can cause severe damage to the organs.

In an interview with our correspondent, Dr. Samuel Oyeleke said such actions have health implications.

“Most of the people, who consume herbal concoctions ‘gbogbonise’ take it on an empty stomach or half-filled stomach, which would have a negative impact on them. It starts affecting their stomach and leads to gastritis, which is commonly mistaken for Ulcer. This is why I educate my parents and everyone around me. You don’t know the dose and quantity you are supposed to take, the duration for taking it, and the composition. The right dose might be a spoon, whereas you have taken a cup. The duration might be a day, whereas you have taken it for three days. We have attributed that the major cause of kidney problems in Nigeria is herbal concoction,” he said.

He further emphasized the importance of educating people on the health risks of taking iced water and herbal concoctions, which can cause severe damage to the body and cause illnesses like cholera, enteritis, enteric fever, and kidney damage, among others.

“We have to educate people because they don’t know. We are in a poverty-driven environment, so people are just taking anything. If you can’t buy bottled water and sachet water, why not take water from your borehole, boil the water, and put it in a bottle? The economic hardship is biting people, people can’t afford sachet water that we call pure water.

The iced water people are going back to, do they know the source? Is it water from the well? Stream or was it boiled by someone? When an iced water defrosts, you will see some particles. The dirty particles are what people are consuming, afterward, they come down with illnesses like cholera, enteritis, and enteric fever. They present as a case of emergency to the hospital. Most of them will go to a chemist, and buy a drug that may not work. After this, they proceed to the hospital. At that point, it may be at the late stage, which the hospital might not be able to handle.”

” I saw a 21-year-old patient who had been down with a fever for three weeks, and abdominal pain for a month. He was brought to the hospital because he could not breathe well. After using ‘Gbogbonise Akapo’, the Herbal concoction ‘Agbo’ but all to no avail. When the boy had difficulty in breathing he was rushed to the hospital. We tried our best, thankfully, he is alive,” he expatiated.

Dr. Oyeleke attributed the widespread circulation of untreated sachet water and bottled water in Nigeria, to the menace of bypassing the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) standard procedures for operating sachet water factories.

He urged all media outlets to create awareness about the dangers of consuming herbal concoctions, and unsterilized water, among others, and called for the enforcement of stringent laws to eradicate the circulation of illicit drugs.

“Awareness plays a major role, that is why we have newspapers, television, and social media, to tell people the danger of illicit drug use, the danger in taking herbal concoctions, and unsterilized water. It’s more of awareness. Until you start telling people the danger of taking herbal concoctions, unsterilized water, and illicit drugs, people will continue to take it.

“In the UK, USA, and South Africa, you can’t just go to the pharmacy to buy drugs, you must have a prescription. But in Nigeria, you don’t need prescriptions, you just walk into the pharmacy and there is no stringent law on pharmacies. Imagine that there is a rule saying that no one should hawk drugs inside buses,” he proffered.

A report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the implementation of regulatory policies to ensure that all herbal medicines are safe for public consumption.

“The global acceptance and use of herbal medicines and related products continue to assume exponential increase. Issues relating to adverse reactions in recent times are also becoming more vivid, increasing in prevalence, and no longer debatable because of previous misconceptions of regarding or categorizing herbal medicinal products as “safe” because they are derived from “natural” source. The reality is that “safety” and “natural” are not synonymous. Therefore, regulatory policies on herbal medicines need to be standardized and strengthened on a global scale. Relevant regulatory authorities in different countries of the world need to be proactive and continue to put in place appropriate measures to protect public health by ensuring that all herbal medicines approved for sale are safe and of suitable quality,” the report stated.

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