MP for Kintampo South Queries Health Minister over Youth in Drugs Abuse

National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Kintampo South in the Brong Ahafo Region, Hon Felicia Adjei, has dragged the Minister for Health to parliament over the proliferation and abusive use of analgesics such as tramadol in the Constituency and other parts of the country.

According to the MP, the situation is becoming more dangerous to the well-being of her constituent as most of them experience side effects.

For fear of more of the youth falling victim to the drugs, Hon Felicia Adjei, on Thursday March 8, posed a question to the minister for Health as to what the ministry was doing about the abusive use of tramadol in the Kintampo South Constituency.

“Mr Speaker, I rise to ask the Minister for Health what the Ministry is doing about the proliferation and abusive use of analgesics such as tramadol in the Kintampo South Constituency,” Ms Adjei asked.

The Kintampo South lawmaker who is a member of Gender and Children Committee of parliament added that  the proliferation of tramadol is causing much harm to the nation labour force age group and needed to be control by agencies responsible.

Some youth arrested with illegal drugs at madina

Tramadol is a man-made (synthetic) narcotic painkiller and is usually prescribed to patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. Preparations containing Tramadol are classified as Prescription Only Medicines (POM).

The approved dosage strengths for Tramadol, according to the FDA, are 50mg and 100 mg.

Tramadol is addictive, acts as stimulant and can produce a feeling of intense euphoria comparable to heroin even at a single dose of 75mg.

In addiction, dependence and mental health effects suffered by Tramadol abusers renders them totally or partially inefficient at their daily activities, resulting in low productivity.

2017 FDA post market surveillance report have suggested scattered abuse of Tramadol by the youth in some parts of the Volta region and other parts of the country, including the Kintampo South Constituency.

Howevr, in answering to the question on the floor of parliament, the Minister for Health, Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has initiated measures to place more restrictives on the used of Tramadol and its distribution by registering it as a Controlled substance.

He said regular use of Tramadol, even under physician’s supervision may come with side effects like dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, nervousness or slow heart rate or weak pulse, while an overdose of it could lead to increased blood pressure, convulsion, memory loss, seizures, hallucinations, coma or even death.

The Health Minister also cautioned the youth against taking Tramadol with other unprescribed drugs, which he stated could causes dependence, liver diseases, renal dysfunction or respiratory dysfunction.

He further said consumption of alcohol with Tramadol will “automatically lower your brain activity leading to loss of consciousness, increased depression, brain damage and even suicidal tendencies.

“This overburdens the nations health care system due to the need for rehabilitation or morbidity and mortality of persons with Tramadol health implications,” Mr Agyeman-Manu, said.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the Ministry had received many reports of Tramadol abuse since early 2017, and in response to the tip-offs gathered, the FAD strategically conducted swoops in the Northern, Volta and Western Regions, where alarming quantities of unregistered Tramadol as well as expired ones were discovered.

 He added that, a follow-up swoop at the Madina Zongo Junction in Accra, towards the end of 2017 uncovered 16 suspects selling unregistered drugs including Tramadol, and were arrested and handed over to the police for further investigations.

According to the sector Minister, an intensified public education, product quality and safety monitoring at educational institutions, markets, beaches, transport terminals and their environs have discovered increased and regular abuse of Tramadol by the youth, market women, commercial vehicle drivers and their mates.

He noted that, apart from the market women, who claimed they take it for relief from body pains and aches, the others consciously used the drug for aphrodisiac purposes by lacing it with energy enhancers and alcoholic beverages.

On the other hand, commercial vehicle (trotro) drivers who lace energy enhancers with Tramadol claimed it boost their system to stay wake for long hours of driving but in the end it masks their condition that could lead to fatal road accidents.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said the FDA had strengthened follow-up inspections to monitor the distribution records of importers and manufacturers of Tramadol.

It has amended the label change on Tramadol products to caution on its addictive tendencies, and ensured that it would only be sold with the submission of a prescription.

The Minister said, FDA is collaborating with the Pharmacy Council to restrict Tramadol display on the shelves of Community Pharmacies and ensure strict enforcement on distribution as controlled drugs.

The authority he noted has also intensified public education on social media platforms and conducting on-going public education at public places, as swoops on illicit Tramadol products continue to bee carry out periodically. Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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