Prof. Moji Adeyeye, Director-General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), says the country is working toward producing 60 per cent of its pharmaceutical products locally to reduce the over-dependence on international companies.
Adeyeye said this at a virtual conference with the theme “Seizing the Moment: Providing Faster Access to Quality Medical Products during COVID-19 and Beyond”, organised by the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in partnership with Deloitte, a multinational professional services network.
The conference which had participants from some African countries was specifically on novel approaches emerging from COVID-19 response that can be effectively leveraged to respond to the pandemic, especially in Africa.
Adeyeye said the coronavirus pandemic was an eye opener to the world and as such efforts should be made to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage.
“Right now, we manufacture only 30 per cent of our products locally, and import 70 per cent; the goal is to change it to around 60 per cent locally and 40 per cent import.
“That is going to really contribute positively to reducing falsified substandard medicines and improve the health of the population,” she said.
According to Adeyeye, pharmaceutical manufacturing industries cannot survive without good regulatory system and as such stringent measures are to be adopted for a healthy system.
She explained that in spite the challenges, NAFDAC as a regulatory body in Nigeria had constantly used the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNIDO indices to monitor the manufacturing industries.
“We have also faced challenge of herbal medicine unspecified claims (unproved claim) for cure of COVID-19, so we have to also contend with that.”
Dr John Nkengaso, Head of Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in his view noted that Africa was able to overcome the over 2 million COVID-19 death projection due to partnership and collaboration of its leaders.
Nkengaso said that accurate diagnosis and power of partnership where public and private sector came together to solve a common problem, were other factors that assisted Africa in navigating the pandemic.
“We were told by the Taskforce in Geneva that after a period of two months the continent will witness over 2million deaths, so we decided as a continent to regroup and figure out ways to diagnose ourselves,” Nkengaso said.
Mr Kofi Nyame, one of the MSH supply chain experts, said the role of pharmaceutical system in this pandemic era should be to get the people ready for other pandemics.
“COVID-19 has served as a magnifying lens for us; it has exposed the inherent weaknesses.
“We know that substandard products are all over in Africa and a greater percentage of our medicines are substandard but the only way out is to strengthen the pharmaceutical systems to ensure that the service delivery is properly monitored.
“We need to ensure that there is a system to regulate, select and distribute medicine. This is how to ensure quality and efficacy,” Nyame said.
He advocated for good supply chain management, strong regulator and use of modern tools to mitigate crisis as solutions to providing faster access to quality medical products during and post COVID-19 era. (NAN)