Shortage of ‘bentua’ hits Accra Central Market

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For the past three months, the Accra Central Market has faced a shortage of enema bulb syringes, locally known as “bentua,” leaving many vendors empty-handed.

This disruption in supply was brought to light during a week-long interaction between The Mirror and some traders in the product. Vendors from various parts of the country, who frequent the market to purchase the “bentua” on a wholesale basis, have repeatedly had to return home without the product.

According to the vendors, a Kumasi-based licensed importer, who has monopolised the importation of the “bentua”, is at the heart of the shortage issue. A vendor at UTC in Accra, who gave her name as Georgina, explained that the wholesaler supplied most of the stock in Kumasi and some West African countries including Cote d’Ivoire. “So by the time she supplies Accra, ‘na aka ketewa bi (it’s left with a small quantity).”

The exclusive import arrangement has left many vendors and their customers in a difficult position. “Frequent complaints and agitation from prospective customers have been overwhelming,” one of the vendors told The Mirror.

These customers are eager to obtain the “bentua” so they can distribute them to various destinations. At the Central Market in Accra, some vendors were observed abandoning their wares in hopes of being timely in getting the “bentua” from their distributors.

Amid this chaos, confusion arose when some vendors mistook this reporter for an importer who had come to improve their supply woes. A vendor at Kingsway, Maame Bee, expressed her frustration, stating, “If the woman in Kumasi does not supply the Accra Central market, nobody else seems to have the right to import into the country.

She imports them from China.” Another vendor who sold in front of the Universal Merchant Bank at the Okaishie market Naa Tsotsòo, shared similar concerns.

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“Unfortunately, we cannot produce “bentua” in Ghana,” she lamented. “China, Germany, and Holland all produce “bentua”. There’s also an Indian company in Abidjan making them. Our great, great, grandmothers have been using this; Why can’t we produce some here?” she asked.

The shortage has severely impacted vendors such as Offeibea, who has been in the “bentua” business for 16 years and depends heavily on its sales for her livelihood.

“Because of the shortage, I am unable to sell wholesale. What I have now is just for retailing and it affects business; I can’t make much profit,” she stated from her position beneath a staircase in the cosmetics section of the market.

Despite these challenges, the “bentua” remains a highly patronised and profitable item, with prices ranging from GH₵25 to GH₵70 depending on the size. The “bentua” is a bulb syringe used in administering liquid through the anus for various health and ritual purposes.


However, a medical practitioner in general surgery at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Philemon Kumassah, in an interview with The Mirror explained that the problem with the purchase had to do with what buyers were using it for, adding that the administration of some herbs through the syringe could have an effect on the colon and is therefore not generally recommended.

He noted that it was only in rare medical conditions that its usage was required, “even that, it is a special enema which is very gentle on the colon when we want to clear the rectum”.

“There is no health benefit for using an enema syringe and if there are no medical benefits, why are you using it?” he asked. A midwife at the Mamprobi Polyclinic in Accra, Ms Doreen Osei, also debunked the rumour that the syringe was a requirement at the labour ward.

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“What we use is called penguin sucker. It is used to suction a baby’s nostrils and mouth after delivery to clear the airway for respiration”, she explained.


Some users of the syringe, including young people who spoke to The Mirror explained that they used it to relieve constipation, and diarrhoea, administer medication to improve sex and administer punishment to children.

Daavi, a market woman, said she grew up in a Ga home and was not taught how to use it, and explained that she started practising it upon the recommendation of some market women.

“I use my bentua after every three months as soon as l deworm. I get some herbs and flush out my system. I feel very good”, she said. Ella Mensah, 28, said, “bentua de3 3y3 birth control (the syringe is a birth control device), all you need is to grind some pawpaw leaves and administer it early in the morning after a sexual encounter instead of taking morning after pills”.


Speaking on the handling of bentua, some market women noted that its tube could be replaced with a ballpoint pen container. The use of the ballpoint pen container generated some discussion among them. One of the women maintained that the original tube was better, hygienic and did not pose any danger.

Another market woman, Maame Etruba, explained that the improvised was enough to give two shots at a go because it had a big opening and could absorb much liquid.

“Besides the tip of the pen container is not smooth enough and likely to cause a tear at the anus” she added. They, however, concluded that buyers of the syringe who found the tip of the tube rough could trim it to make it smooth for penetration.

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