The Tanzania Foods and Drugs Regulatory Authority (TFDA) officials in the Northern Zone have raised alarm in connection with 'increasing cases of misuse' of creams initially prescribed for treatment of eczema and other skin disorders.
According to the TFDA Northern Zone's Manager, Mr Damas Matiko Nyang'anyi, the authority is working hard to take off the shelves and destroy banned cosmetics that many women used to apply to bleach their skins.
But now, users of these outlawed products have resorted to applying medically prescribed skin creams and ointments in their quest for lighter complexions.
"The government had slammed a ban on soaps, skin creams, ointments and other products that contain deadly intoxicants such as steroids, chloroforms, mercury, sulphur, hydroquinone and 11 other listed harmful chemicals," said Mr Matiko.
He added that despite the ban, traders have been smuggling such compounds into the country and selling them clandestinely due to high demand. "But manufacturers of these creams have of late been cheating by not printing the list of active ingredients on packages containing creams and ointments.
"This means we now have to start afresh taking products to the government chemist laboratories to test whether they contained the intoxicants or not," explained the TFDA manager.
But even worse, some people have been going to chemist shops, dispensaries and hospitals to buy permitted and legally imported skin treating products which again they misuse through over-application or smearing them over their skins without following medical prescriptions.
This, according to TFDA, is as dangerous as using poisonous chemicals. "As a result we are now experiencing increasing cases of skin and liver cancer, women missing their menstrual cycles, some giving birth to retarded children. Other problems include brain tumors, sudden unexplained deaths, prostate cancer for men and increased facial hair for ladies," warned Mr Matiko.
Some of the banned cosmetic products are those bearing trademarks such as Jaribu (soaps) Diva Clearing Soap, Princess Cream, Mont-Claire cream and many others that keep cropping up the shelves on daily basis with different names.
Arusha City leads in cases of skin bleaching ladies with the banned cosmetics being destroyed by TFDA on weekly basis, but also the number of cosmetic shops are on the rise, with many of the banned creams also being sold at beauty parlors or hair re-making salons.