BY BODE GBADEBO, Abuja
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has assured the Senate that his ministry would ensure that all Federal Government-owned health institutions in the country procure and use only locally manufactured syringes and needles.
The Minister’s disclosure followed recommendations of the chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, at a public hearing on Thursday.
The Senate Committees on Health and Industry, Trade and Investments were jointly probing a petition by the Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the producers of syringes and needles.
The association in its petition, had alleged that government at all levels were not patronising their products but opted for imported ones.
But the Minister of Health told the Senate joint panel that his ministry would ensure that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approve a policy to ensure patronage of locally-made products within a short time possible.
According to Osagie, it will be also be an offence for any federal health institution in the country to administer vaccine procured by Federal Government, with foreign syringes and needles when the policy is in place.
He said, “We have listened to the position of the committee and we want to assure the chairman and other distinguished members that we will come up with the policy and get approval from the Federal Executive Council within six weeks as suggested by the committee.
“We are in support of the move to encourage local manufacturing of syringes and needles because it is the best way to create jobs and take Nigerians out of poverty.
“We are all interested in developing local capacities to encourage local manufacturers is an item on the agenda of the President to take 100 million Nigerians out of poverty,” the minister said.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Oloriegbe, had earlier urged both the Minister of Health and his counterpart in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investments, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, to do everything possible by using their offices to encourage the local manufacturers of syringes and needles.
“We want you to come up with a policy that will make it mandatory for all federal health institutions, the FMCs and teaching hospitals to use locally manufactured syringes and needles.
“That is the best way to encourage local manufacturers.
“It will be in our recommendations as a committee that all federally-owned hospitals, without exception must procure and use only locally manufactured syringes and needles from companies that are registered and approved by NAFDAC to produce them in Nigeria.
“We will also demand that locally manufactured syringes and vaccines should be used to administer all vaccines procured by government”
The Director General of the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, informed the panel that the local manufacturers of syringes and needles in Nigeria lacked the capacity to produce the required quantity needed in Nigeria hence the agency licensed some people to import the shortfall.
But the President, Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Akin Oyediran, said the NAFDAC DG was relying on old data.
Oyediran said, “We have the capacity to produce the required syringes and needles that we need in the country.
“One of the manufacturers in Nigeria, the Jubilee Syringe b which I am the MD is the largest manufacturers of Syringes in Africa.
“We have just been approached by other countries in Africa to please export our syringes to them. There is no doubt about having the capacity. I think NAFDAC is speaking based on old data because our company is now about three years old. We produce over 1.7 million syringes per day, six days a week.
“We welcome the move by the Senate asking the minister of health to come up with a policy that would give exclusive rights to the local manufacturers of syringes to produce the products for all federally funded health institutions in Nigeria.
“The local manufacturers are actually the highest supplies of syringes and needles for hospitals. There is no point why government hospitals should use imported syringes when we have the locally manufactured ones.”