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Cameroon : MP Nouran Foster Censured for Commercializing De-pigmentation Products

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Nouran Foster

It is a video that has set social networks ablaze and accumulated thousands of views: “Cameroon: ‘lightening’ drinks, a juicy but dangerous business”.

It is a report on “a curious drink” that is supposed to lighten the skin and was broadcast on 10 August 2022 on France 24, the 24-hour international news channel. Behind this drink is the Cameroonian businesswoman and MP Nourane Foster (or Nourane Fotsing). The member of the Cameroonian Party for National Reconciliation (PCRN) praises her product which, according to her, would give a beautiful skin and would be without any danger for health.

It contains about five products: you have collagen, alpha arbutin, glutathione, the enzyme slimming drink… They are totally certified, organic. They are totally certified, organic. You drink them safely, you have no worries,” she says in this report, in which she is seen swallowing this “beautifying” drink. These images caused controversy and rekindled the debate on depigmentation. On social networks, Internet users accused the PCRN MP of promoting skin whitening. Especially since glutathione and arbutin (two of the five substances in her drink) are used in cosmetics as depigmenting agents.

This report has also made the Minister of Public Health , Manaouda Malachie, react. In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ministry of Public Health  said that the “promoters of the products clearly identified” in this report are engaged in “activities harmful to the health of the population”. This is because the substances contained in these drinks, namely glutathione and alpha arbutin, “are poisonous substances“. In a letter sent to Nourane Foster on 9 August, Manaouda Malachie accused the head of the company Nourishka, which specialises in the distribution of beauty products, of having violated the regulations on the marketing of food supplements and diet drinks.

I also ask you to suspend all activities of marketing such products without prior authorization from my ministerial department, given that it is akin to endangering the lives of others, punishable by the Cameroonian Code of Criminal Procedure,” the government member wrote.

After initially taking up the cause of his party mate and denouncing the laxity of the government in matters of health control, the President of the PCRN, Cabral Libii, finally declared that a framework will be offered to Nourane Foster to enable her to enlighten the public on this matter.

“We are going to invite the Honourable Nourane Fotsing (…) in the appropriate instances of the party, in order to lead a discussion on the regulatory, scientific and ethical foundations on which the commercial activity she is promoting is based,” the MP and former presidential candidate announced on his Facebook page.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), skin bleaching can damage the liver and kidneys, cause psychosis and cancer.

Given its consequences on health, some countries such as Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire have banned the marketing of lightening products on their territories. Some would like to see this measure extended to Cameroon, while others, such as the Consumer Advocates Network (Redco), are campaigning for the adoption of an anti-depigmentation law.



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