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Ministry of Health, stakeholders advocate use of natural hair care products

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The Federal Ministry of Health and other key health stakeholders have reiterated the need for Nigerians to embrace organic hair products.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the stakeholders made this call at the opening ceremony of the African Hair Summit on Friday in Abuja.

Mr Abdullahi Mashi, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health stated that the Ministry was working on frameworks for the National Policy on Cosmetics Management to address the issues caused by harmful cosmetics chemicals.

He stated that the policy will further strengthen the Ministry to carry out its lead role in cosmestic safety and administration in the country.

He noted that there are increased risk of health issues in black women due to the constant use of harmful chemicals in hair care products.

Mashi, who was represented by Mr Olarenwaju Fathai, Assistant Director at the Ministry, said, “It is known that about 10, 500 industrial chemicals are used as comedic ingredients many of which are carcinogens, pesticides or reproductive toxins.

“Some of these chemicals used in hair products are later washed into the environment and can booaccumulate and pose serious dangers to human health,” he said.

Mashi explained that to guarantee the good health of the public, the Ministry has banned the manufacturing and sale of products containing harmful chemicals.

The banned chemicals include Hydroquinone, Bithionol, Mercury compounds, Vinyl Chloride, Zirconium complexes, Hexaxhlorophene and Corticosteriods.

Mashi said, “The ban and enforcement of these products containing harmful chemicals is a clear demonstration of the willingness of government to ensure due priority is being accorded to the health of an average Nigerian.”

NAN reports that Mashi called on stakeholders, experts and regulatory bodies to send in their contributions to develop a robust policy.

Also speaking at the Summit, Dr Kemi Osunderu, a medical expert said that studies have shown that African women are three times more likely to have fribroids because of the harmful chemicals in their cosmetics products.

She said, “Some of these chemicals are estrogen or endocrine-disrupting products and leads to cancer and fertility issues.

“Our kinky hair is due to our weather and it is meant to protect our scalp. Using the relaxers make the hairs thin and exposes us to health risks,”

NAN reports that Osunderu advised guests to be mindful of the foods, products and environments they expose themselves to in order to stay healthy.

Also, Dr Anne Ogoh, Senior Project Manager, Christian Aid noted that the natural hair movement has become an elevated identity unlike few years ago when it was when it was relegated to poor people.

She said, “Natural hair has become a strong identity. In a couple of years, it will be hard to market synthetic products in Nigeria. The movement is growing and conversations are expanding.”

Speaking earlier in her welcome address, Adanna Enwezor, convener of the African Hair Summit thanked participants, partners and sponsors for keying into the healthy hair and lifestyle movement.

She said, “This is a movement and it is about building African natural hair industries. Starting this movement has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people as you.

“Join us to say no to toxic products that damage our health. Join us to promote the African culture. The black hair industry is worth over two billion dollars and can reduce poverty.”

NAN reports that the summit also featured a dance drama from AfriTheatre and products exhibition.

The event finale will hold on June 15.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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