Skin whitening creams mostly referred to as bleaching creams, are rampant on the African market as many feel the need to lighten their skin for several reasons. The Rwanda government is beginning a campaign to end the sale of skin lightening creams within the country.
A Simeon Kwizera, the spokesman of the overseeing board said the government is waging a war against bleaching creams, cosmetics contain Hydroquinone and substandard cosmetics in Rwanda. He made the statement while speaking with CNN. He went on to mention the different bodies in charge of the operation. They include the Ministry of Health, Rwanda Standards Board, and the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority.
You will remember that the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, started a campaign against the sale of skin whiteners on Twitter last November. Currently, there is a crackdown on sellers of such products in Kigali and other Rwandan provinces as officials of the above agencies, together with Rwandan police officers, have stormed markets seizing bleaching and skin-lightening products.
The director of the cancer unit under the Ministry of Health, Francois Uwinkindi, while speaking to Reuters news agency said they have made efforts to educate the populace on the adverse effects of bleaching creams and other skin lightening cosmetics. Over five thousand of such products have been seized already and the police report more raids are still taking place.
The major constituents of skin whitening creams are hydroquinone and mercury. The adverse effects of using these products include reduced immunity to bacterial attack, cancer, fungal infections, liver damage, and depression. Statistics show that about 77% of Nigerian women, 25% of Malian women, 59% of Togolese women use skin whitening creams regularly.