South Sudan’s Drugs and Food Control Authority (DFCA) has banned importation and sale of all skin lightening products.
Mawien Atem Mawien, secretary general of DFCA, said the ban seeks to protect the people of South Sudan from being exposed to harmful chemicals used in manufacturing skin bleaching cosmetics.
“All the whitening or bleaching creams are prohibited for import without any approval from DFCA, most especially those that contain mercury and hydroquinone,’’ Mr Mawien told reporters on Tuesday.
The regulatory body ordered all cosmetic dealers in the country to obtain new import licences in an effort to regulate their business.
“It is very clear that cosmetics are being used in South Sudan without any discrimination despite the fact that they contain so many chemicals.
“No cosmetics will be brought to the Republic of South Sudan without the approval of DFCA. Anything outside the right channel will be deemed illegal,’’ Mr Mawien said.
Skin lightening or whitening is common in South Sudan especially among the youth.
It, however, remains unclear whether the ban will be effective as several other bans on polythene bags and export of charcoal have so far failed to materialise.
South Sudan’s ban follows similar moves by Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, where the importation of such products is prohibited.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), skin bleaching using soaps or creams containing chemicals such as mercury can cause diverse health effects on the human body.