Tuesday, May 28, 2024

FG secures $1bn to boost local drug production 

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Chijioke Iremeka

The National Coordinator of the Presidential Unlocking Healthcare Value-Chain Initiative, Dr Abdu Mukhtar says the Federal Government has raised over $1 billion to boost local drug production in Nigeria.

He revealed that the FG had already secured $1 billion from Afrexim Bank to boost local drug production and is still talking with the Bank of Industry, Africa Development Bank, and European Investment Bank to procure more.

According to him, Nigeria imports about 32 per cent of pharmaceuticals from India; 31 per cent from the Netherlands, and 10 per cent from China.

Mukhtar also noted that about 99 per cent of Nigeria’s medical devices are imported and this underscores the need for local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

He said that about 36 per cent of medical devices in Nigeria are sourced from China; Germany (10%), France (9%), and India (8%), saying that Nigeria is a GAVI country, hence does not manufacture vaccines.

The National Coordinator lamented that 70 per cent of drugs in the country are imported, while 30 per cent are produced locally, while manufacturers spend huge amounts of foreign exchange to purchase APIs to formulate drugs.

He said, “The local production of APIs will save the country forex and also boost local production of drugs. We have a very clear plan on how we can start the process,” he added.

More so, to tackle these challenges, Mukhtar noted that in October 2023, President Bola Tinubu approved the Presidential Initiative for Unlocking the Healthcare Value Chain, which seeks to unlock billions of dollars of new investment into the nation’s healthcare delivery system.

“This will be achieved through time-bound and cross-ministerial collaboration to restructure the healthcare ecosystem. The vision is to transform Nigeria into one of the world’s key emerging hubs of health products and technologies manufacturing,” he said,

According to him, the Initiative prioritised health security; job creation; significant demand; and unmet needs; and ensured feasible technology, economic growth, and quick time-to-impact.

He added, “We are prioritising local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients for synthetic small molecule drugs and semi-synthetic small molecule drugs. We are also prioritising Malaria treatment, among others.”

He noted that demand and supply as well as the enablement environment are the major challenges undermining the industrial development of the sector.

Mukhtar noted that on the demand side, consumers have higher preferences and willingness to pay for imported products, while on the supply side, about 17 per cent of products are substandard or falsified, thereby impacting consumer trust.

He added, “Also, local manufacturers are increasingly obtaining quality certifications, but this is still considered a challenge as only four players are World Health Organisation-Good Manufacturing Practice certified.

“Enabling environment challenges include payment terms/rates that make repayment challenging; limited access to technology; manufacturing plant challenges and challenging trade environment which include import/export tariffs and limited access to raw materials, as a result of currency devaluation, among others.”

Also, the special adviser to the President on Health, Salma Anas-Ibrahim, said President Tinubu is passionate about how the country can improve and change the trajectory in the health sector.

According to him, currently, the country imports about 70 per cent of medical needs and manufactures only 30 per cent.

“Tinubu wants to reverse this trend in such that the local manufacturers can boost production to 70 per cent, while imports of its medical needs are 30 per cent.

“This is the only way we can reduce cost and improve access to quality services for the teeming population of Nigeria,” she said.



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