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Era of Nigeria’s dependence on drug importation is over, says Health minister

By Chioma Obinna

The newly appointed Minister of State for Health, Dr Adeleke Mamora Wednesday said the era of Nigeria’s dependence on imported medicines was over, saying, that “we can no longer allow other countries to turn Nigeria to a dumping ground.”

File: Drugs

Mamora who lamented the country’s inability in drug self-sufficiency said it is time the country utilises what it has to ensure the citizens have access to safe and affordable medicines.

Speaking during the fifth Nigeria Pharma Manufacturer’s Expo held in Lagos, the minister said though, there has been remarkable Improvement by regulatory agencies and establishments in preventing the dumping of drugs by foreign countries, there is need to reach out to herbal practitioners to ensure efficacy and safety of drugs made available to citizens.

“What I am seeing is the capacity we desire and the determination of our people to really address the issue of sufficiency of medicines. We are also talking about homegrown, that is, looking at what we have on the ground to get the best out of the system and that is very important.

“All we want to be sure of is the efficacy and safety of the drugs available to us. I have seen a lot of technology that will aid the attainment of this desired and desirable approach,” he said.

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Corroborating his views,  the Chairman, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN), Dr Fidelis Ayebae expressed worry that Nigeria is overly dependent on imported and donor aid to satisfy the essential medicine need of her rapidly growing population, while its facilities are abysmally underutilised.

Ayebae said more discouraging is the fact that those products, which the industry in the country has the capacity and competence to produce locally are imported into its market space.

He said the ripple effect of continuous over-dependence on imported medicine is giving a window for falsified, substandard and counterfeit medicine, exerting pressure on Nigeria’s foreign reserve as well as exporting jobs to other countries and importing poverty to Nigeria.

He said if Nigeria is to attain self-sufficiency and ensure medicine security, deliberate radical policy must be put in place as well as an enabling business environment created by the government to promote, protect and grow the pharmaceutical industry, which he said contributes to the nation’s building to the excess of N300 billion and employ’s over three million Nigerians directly and indirectly.

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On friendly policies, the  Chairman, Nigeria Pharma Manufacturers Expo (NPME), Prince Segun Agboade urged the Federal government to establish local pharmaceutical manufacturers’ expansion and export intervention fund of N300 billion and increase patronage of locally manufactured medicine by government.

“The government must enforce the Executive Order 003 with institutionalized monitoring and evaluation mechanism as well as zero per cent tariff for pharmaceutical raw and packaging materials and retention of 20 per cent tariff on imported finished pharmaceutical products local companies have the capacity to produce.

On his part, High Commissioner of India, Shri Abhay Thakur said Nigeria should learn from India, added that the key to success has been affordable solutions in machinery, health, agriculture among others.

He said the country is set to become the world’s fifth-largest manufacturing economy by the end of 2020.

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