By Remi Adebayo
Lack of expertise and limited human capacity in the end-to-end drugs distribution in the country has been identified as major inhibitors to access quality local products in the healthcare delivery system.
Country Lead of Africa Resource Centre, Mrs. Azuka Okeke stated this at the forum organised by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, PMG-MAN, in collaboration with the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria which held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on Thursday.
The forum had as its theme; Improving access to Medicines: The imperatives of local manufacturing and effective supply chain management.
Africa Resource Centre for Supply Chain in Nigeria was founded by Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to serve as an independent advisor and strategic partner to provide technical and strategic support to the Federal Ministry of Health, State Ministries of Health, donors and implementing partners in Nigeria.
Okeke, while speaking on a paper titled, “Developing a contextual supply chain model for the Nigerian setting: Dangote International Industries Commodities’ experience, said “PMG-MAN must begin to think about supply chain through partnership with different sectors to guarantee end to end distribution of needed drugs.”
She said private sector expertise and collaboration among companies stand to compliment government efforts in the healthcare system.
“PMG-MAN should not just be about manufacturing alone but must also be interested in the supply chain,” Okeke noted.
To this end, the ARC leader disclosed that the Centre was partnering with states, donor and implementing agencies towards making pharmaceutical products available to the end users.
Earlier, while welcoming participants to the gathering, PMG-MAN’s chairman, Okechukwu Akpa charged participants at the summit to think Nigeria; reminding them that no one would love Nigeria better than its citizens; he therefore urged that actions be fast tracked to safeguard the health of every Nigerian leveraging on the local pharmaceutical products.
He called on government to protect, patronise and pay for local pharmaceutical products under what he called the group’s PPP.
Akpa expressed delight at the federal government’s executive order on the ease of doing business for including locally produced drugs among items contained in the order as directed by acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
He however advocated for further strengthening of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, in a bid to enable it perform its regulatory functions to the fullest.
The PMG-MAN leader also called on the government to give priorities to local drugs manufacturing and establish a Special Pharma Fund for its members to access funding and finance, while urging the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to implement the Expedited Medicine’s Access Programme, E-MAP, it submitted to the ministry.
Similarly, Akpa asked the government to address policy inconsistencies, lack of political will, inadequate focus, inadequate access to funding and finance as well as lack of framework on knowledge transfer to boost local manufacturing of medicines which he described to be parts of national security.
In the same vein, the chairman advocated that members who have capacities to import unavailable drugs in the country should be encouraged to bring in such products.
“No country all over the world produces everything,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Country Director of UNAID in Nigeria, Bilali Camara, highlighted the initiatives of the world body towards deploying local talents to policy decisions.
He said through U-Report, over two million young people give feedback on crucial issues affecting the nation to it, citing Borno State as examples of localities where citizens get back at the body regardless of the security challenges in that part of the country.
Camara said, “NAFDAC has good local and international reputation as a standard regulatory body bothering on drugs and good and has improved healthcare delivery in Nigeria.”
He said the agency should be equipped to become a major regulatory healthcare agency throughout the West African region as Nigeria cannot always depend on the Who Health Organisation to regulate its heathcare.