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Addressing impact of coronavirus on global medicine supply security

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Working towards a long-term solution to address the current and future impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on the global medicine supply security, the Association of Industrial Pharmacist of Nigeria (NAIP) has partnered with Bloom Public Health to create an environment for an uninterrupted supply of essential medicines to the population despite any situation.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bloom Public Health, Prof. Chimezie Anyakora, and Chairman of NAIP, Ignatius Anukwu, told journalists on Tuesday after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU): “In view of the shared interest between both organisations with regards to ensuring the availability of quality-assured health products, there is strong desire to work together on a mutual strategy of strengthening the health systems to guarantee access to safe and affordable health products.”

According to the MoU, Bloom Public Health will support NAIP by providing technical assistance to the Association in actualising Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Parks in Nigeria. Bloom will also support the association to develop programmes that enhance the awareness of the pharmaceutical hub in Nigeria and internationally.

Anyakora told The Guardian: “This MoU is a big win for Nigeria and Africa and is a very good step in the right direction. The impact of the disruption of the pharmaceutical supply chain is huge and will still be felt in months to come. At Bloom, we are excited by the various quick interventions of different agencies of government to solve this problem. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stepped out strongly with finances to provide a solution but what NAIP is planning to do is long term impactful intervention that will get the country ready should there be another pandemic of this nature and this will complement all other interventions.”

He said Bloom Public Health is a new public health organisation that was birthed by a team of very experienced public health professionals. After seeing the skills that can be mobilised and the many unmet critical needs in the public health space in Africa, Bloom is coming to fill this gap.

Anukwu said that he is excited with the development as NAIP has found in Bloom Public Health, a strategic partner to actualise the establishment of pharmaceutical manufacturing parks in Nigeria as a panacea for self-sufficiency in essential medicine availability. “This will totally revolutionize the Nigerian Pharmaceutical sector. Already, NAIP has contracted the development of a business case for the establishment of the industrial parks which is expected to be ready in a few months time,” he said.

The pharmacist also commended the CBN initiative and said that NAIP will take full advantage of the low-interest intervention funds. “With such infrastructure and capacity in place, Nigeria will be better equipped for epidemics or pandemics like COVID-19 with a reasonable quantity of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and excipients in the country,” he added.

Does the project have any solution to coronavirus, Lassa fever and other epidemics? Anyakora said: “Every epidemic puts a lot of pressure on the health system and it becomes more challenging when the health system is weak as could be found in many African countries. Supply chain within the health system, which involves the flow of goods and services is negatively impacted in the areas of workforce, access to essential medicines, as well as service delivery because of such epidemics.

Furthermore, public health financing is also affected because of economic slowdown as evidenced by coronavirus epidemic. Most African countries are import-dependent for essential medicines and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The coronavirus, for example, has had a disruptive impact on global pharmaceutical supply chains. Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first discovered, is a hub for major active pharmaceutical ingredient makers and many countries depend on them. China because of the crisis they have faced so far has been inclined to hold unto supplies for certain pharmaceutical and by implication export less to other countries. So many drug makers have very low stock of active pharmaceutical ingredients thereby predisposing their customers, which include Nigeria to a shortage of finished pharmaceutical products in addition to active pharmaceutical ingredients. Epidemics also lead to an increase in the cost of goods and services. In the case of pharmaceuticals and still using the coronavirus as an example, there has been a lot of cancellation of the sailing of vessels and flights from China with the implication in increases in the cost of such pharmaceuticals.

“The world is a global village. Global health security is as strong as its weakest link. Nigeria through the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) leadership has made progress in coordinating and responding to epidemics in recent times. Bloom Public Health will support building a resilient health system by developing and strengthening rapid access to medicines and therapeutics in general, including vaccines, which are needed especially for clinical care during epidemics...”

We will also support lab strengthening to enable quick access to accurate results. Nigeria is doing well in early detection and preventive measures; however, we must be prepared to offer appropriate clinical care. Bloom Public Health will also contribute to massive awareness and education of the population on the appropriate preventive measures against the occurrence of any spread of diseases.”

Can Bloom address the imminent drug and medical supplies scarcity in Nigeria? He explained: “I have earlier listed the five levels pharmaceutical maturity of a given country as importation, packaging, manufacturing of finished pharmaceutical products, manufacturing of active ingredients, research and development...”.


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