Minister of Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite

Process Underway for Local Medical Consumables Production – Minister

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, says the Federal Government has initiated a process to improve the local production of syringes, needles and other medical equipment in the country.

This she explained would help to fill the gap created by the exodus of foreign manufacturing companies due to unfavourable business environment.

The policy is coming months after a British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria, Sanofi and other healthcare companies ended their operations in the country, citing foreign exchange unavailability.

Aniete, speaking at a meeting with members of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja, said the government was ready to eliminate policy bottlenecks affecting the sector while improving the capacity of local producers.

She stated that President Bola Tinubu instructed the ministry to remove all bottlenecks impeding the growth of the sector immediately so that Nigerians can access these medicines for less money and of a higher quality, which will change the game for the medical device industry to utilise its full capacity.

The minister also stated that a backward integration programme with enticing incentives will be explored to stop the exit of foreign manufacturing companies.

She said, “The mandate that we’ve been given by the President is to fix every problem in Nigeria, especially problems that affect the manufacturers in all sectors of the economy. And at the last FEC meeting, we took the healthcare sector specifically to understand the challenges. And the mandate given to us is to fix it as quickly as possible.

“The President wants to ensure that the prices of manufactured equipment drop and citizens have greater access to these medicines at affordable rates but high quality.

“The government is ready to remove all impending bottlenecks in industrialisation, manufacturing or the real sector in Nigeria and we have just done that for the health instrument sector.”

The minister added, “Now that we have the presidential backing to fix it as quickly as possible, I can only assure you that everything we discuss here will be taken and expedited. Some of these things are just policy changes we need to make. They’re not necessarily such big problems but when we understand where the problem is and how to fix it and come up with the right policies, then we can solve the problem and gets the country growing.

“We have designed a backward integration programme which incorporates policies that affect medical devices and the entire health care. We are going to launch that programme with the approval of the Federal Executive Council soon. I am sure it will be a game-changer for the medical device industry for full capacity utilisation. There will be enticing incentives to support the industry and loaded incentives to incentivise.”

On his part, the Minister of State for Health, Tunji Alausa, explained that the FG aims to change the narrative from the importation of syringes to local production.

He noted, “Over the past several years, we have had a strong importation of needles and syringes to Nigeria while our local manufacturing companies suffer.

“The mission is to reduce the cost of pharmaceutical products in the country as well as medical supplies in the country. We have discussed the challenges, explored practical solutions where we can begin to have some quick wins, and immediate solutions that we will be incorporating in the executive order that the president has asked us to work and well as the medium-term solutions on this issue.

“We have addressed all the issues that will put the industry on the path of sustainability where they can begin to create durable, well-paying jobs for our citizens and ensure we have high-quality syringes and needles that would not harm our citizens, as they go to our hospitals and facilities to seek care.”

The Managing Director, Afrimedical, Mr. Akin Oyeniran, said, “First, we like to thank Mr. President for the executive order to protect, and also both ministers. This is the beginning of moving the industry forward. The effort will have a ripple effect on the economy.”

“It was a great meeting; the meeting was very effective and the government has shown the motivation that they want to bring back the industry.

“We have been able to put our problems forward to them and they’ve come up with a quick solution and they will be working on it.”

“Nigeria is the hope of supply for other West African regions and with this we hope the boom will return and the industry will resume supplying again to other countries.”