AFRICANGLOBE – Doctors in Antigua and Barbuda are preparing to lobby the country’s government to draft and enact legislation to limit the importation and use of skin bleaching products.
News of this development was revealed by Caribarena Antigua in a report that quoted physician Patrick Matthew as saying that skin bleaching among the nation’s women had reached critical levels with life-threatening consequences.
Matthew reportedly said that recent tests conducted in Antigua revealed alarming levels of mercury in some of the products available, and at least one person has so far been diagnosed with cancer after using such products.
The young woman in question has since left for Canada, where further tests will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis and treatment options, according to reports.
Matthew reportedly explained that the woman had been diagnosed with high levels of ototoxicity, with unacceptable levels of mercury present.
Caribarena further quoted the doctor as saying that residents have seemingly been buying black market products that have been banned in some countries like Jamaica, where skin bleaching practices had to be legislated.
Mercury intake is reportedly known to have significant, harmful side effects, including brain damage and birth defects.
“We are going to be looking to get some kind of legislation passed to protect our women from the dangers they do not know,” Dr Matthew was quoted as saying.
Dermatologist Dr Maria Periera and Dr Jerry Simon are said to be among the local physicians prepared to take the proposal to Cabinet.
Similar concerns about skin-lightening agents have been raised in several parts of Africa, according to a recent report by the Africanglobe.