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Drug insecurity looms in Nigeria over Coronavirus, says NAFDAC

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- West African countries need $50m for preparedness, response

The National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has alerted that Nigeria may experience drug insecurity due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in China, saying the situation portends danger for the country.

Briefing the media yesterday in Abuja on the upcoming African Medicine Quality Forum (AMQF) meeting scheduled for between February 24, 2020, and February 28, 2020, its Director-General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, disclosed that Nigeria now imports 70 per cent of its medicines and other active and non-active ingredients.

She said, “70 per cent of our drugs are imported and everybody should take this seriously. We have drug insecurity because of Coronavirus. India is already feeling it because they buy most of their materials and active ingredients from China.

“And if India is feeling it, we should start praying because we don’t manufacture anything here except water. We import virtually everything from active, non-active ingredients and equipment, among others.

“So, it is scary, and I have been emphasising this from day one. We need drug security. Since we import 70 per cent of our drugs, we are in trouble if such things happen.”

She noted that reports of closure of manufacturing outfits in Asian countries and India due to shortage of reagents and other materials place the country in a delicate situation more than ever before.

Adeyeye said NAFDAC visited and investigated 169 companies within six months between 2018 and 2019 and as a result, pharmaceutical products have improved in the standard.

She also disclosed that NAFDAC has also been equipping its laboratories on daily basis to help analyse drugs and ensure that they meet required standards, urging people to desist from cooking their foods with paracetamol, especially to soften meats.

“When paracetamol is subjected to heat while cooking with it, it changes to para-aminophenol and benzoquine, which destroys the kidneys. We have done a lot of enlightenment because the major problem of our people is ignorance and illiteracy.

“We haven’t made any arrests because to do that, we will need to test the pots of soup containing the substances at our office. Another reason is that we are short-staffed, but I think the government is doing something about this,” she added.

Concerning enforcement against peddlers of falsified and substandard medicines, Adeyeye said the agency was collaborating with the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), especially at unapproved markets or those known for substandard medicines.

Meanwhile, West African countries would require about $50m to create an ecosystem and put in place personal protection equipment, laboratory supplies, communication and coordination strategies for preparedness and response to Coronavirus, according to the West African Health Organisation (WAHO).

Consequently, the Federal Government has assured that if and when the need arises, it would evacuate Nigerian citizens in China, especially those in Wuhan city, the epic centre of the disease.

Speaking at a media briefing organised by WAHO yesterday in Abuja, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunmibe Mamora said the Federal Government has been monitoring the health of Nigerian citizens in China through the Nigerian Ambassador and would not hesitate to evacuate them if the need arises.


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