The impacts of neo-liberalism on public health: A case study of skin bleaching among women living in Zimbabwe
Main Objective: To find out the impacts of free markets on public health using skin bleaching among the women living in Zimbabwe as a case study.
Materials and methods: The study was designed as a case study which used a combined methodology facilitated by a cross sectional online survey among 270 women living in Zimbabwe and key informant interviews among 10 cosmetic sellers in Zimbabwe.
Results: All the key informants reported to be selling skin lightening cosmetics amongst their cosmetics, some of these cosmetics reported being illegal. All skin lightening products were reported to be hoarded outside Zimbabwe. Corruption and relaxed policies on cosmetic regulation were suggested to be enabling entry of some of the illegal and potentially harmful products in the country. The prevalence of skin bleaching among the participants was 31.15% and most of the participants (61.40%) were ignorant about skin bleaching cosmetics' side effects.
Conclusion: Results from the study imply neoliberalism could be promoting a high influx of harmful skin bleaching cosmetics in the Zimbabwean market putting a considerably high number of women who bleach their skin at risk and
therefore having a negative impact on public health. Targeted health education i.e. on skin bleaching, regulatory public health policies and their enforcement can play an important role in controlling access and subsequently curbing the
detrimental effects of skin bleaching products and improve the health of the public.
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