Menace of Use of Aphrodisiacs in Ghana: Conclusions and Recommendations of Scientific Workshop

The Ghana Public Health Association organized a scientific seminar to examine the impact on the health of people on chronic use of aphrodisiacs in Ghana on 31st March 2016. The seminar was driven by three main specific issues. First, the increasing advertising on aphrodisiacs; secondly, the value of the scientific evidence in support of the use of aphrodisiacs; and thirdly, the potential health effects on human health of chronic use of aphrodisiacs. Aphrodisiacs are variously described as a food or drug that is said to give healthy people a strong desire to have sex, or increase libido when consumed. These are in contrast to medicinal products for male and female sexual dysfunction with recognized medical conditions. The meeting observed that though there are efficacious drugs for the management of sexual dysfunction and loss of libido, there is very weak scientific evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of so-called aphrodisiacs. The meeting also expressed concern about aphrodisiacs on sale over-the counter many of which have been adulterated with erectile dysfunction medicines. There is concern also about the unbridled media advertisement promoting their use. Policy options for dealing with the proliferation of aphrodisiacs (including establishing appropriate treatment options for male and female sexual dysfunction, sustained public education, and strengthening the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) to enforce existing laws on manufacturing, registration, advertising and use of medicinal products in Ghana) were proposed and submitted to relevant agencies for consideration. Key Words: Health Promotion, drugs, alcohol, harm reduction, addiction. Key Messages: 1. There is proliferation of media advertisement promoting the use of aphrodisiacs in Ghana. 2. The scientific basis for promoting these aphrodisiacs is weak and there is high potential for long-term adverse health effects following their chronic use. 3. There is an urgent need for establishing appropriate treatment options for male and female sexual dysfunction to satisfy genuine needs of people with these problems.

George Amofah

Ghana Public Health Association

Former Deputy Director General, Director of Public Health and Regional Director of Health Services, Ashanti Region, Ghana Health Service.
Currently on retirement and public health consultant and part-time lecturer at School of Public Health (University of Ghana, Legon) and Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. Holds MB ChB (University of Ghana); Masters in Public Health (University of Leeds); Fellow of Ghana College of Physicians; and Fellow of West African College of Physicians.