Pharmacists want access to forex for drug makers

Ahmed Yakasai

Ahmed Yakasai

To forestall possible nationwide shortage of essential medicines, pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to prioritise pharmaceutical manufacturers with respect to accessing forex to enable the expeditious replenishment of depleted pharmaceutical raw materials.

The PSN, led by its President, Ahmed Yakasai, during a courtesy visit to Buhari over the weekend said this would guarantee uninterrupted supply of high quality medicines to the Nigerian public.

Yakasai said the pharmaceutical industry has the potential to contribute over a million jobs to the Nigerian economy, meaning that our wealth of knowledge and experience, together with our collective dedication to national service, can be harnessed in planning development strategies for underdeveloped sectors and regions.

He said the majority of the World Health Organisation (WHO) certified pharmaceutical companies in Africa are from Nigeria. “Through exportation, the Nigerian pharmaceutical sector can therefore become a major forex earner for the country. Also, it will enable the Nation leverage of the election of a Nigerian, Mr. Okey Akpa as President of the Regional Manufacturers Association.

The pharmacists urged Buhari to facilitate the setting up of a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Expansion Development Fund (PMEDF), in line with regional policies, which has been done in Ghana and other West African nations where disbursement has commenced. “The PMEDF will stimulate development of innovative products suitable for our environment as well as enable us compete with international firms,” he said.

Yakasai said the full implementation of National Health Act 2014 would go a long way in stabilising the health sector. “It is important to put on record that the NHA 2014 is probably the only statute that attracted the attention of a wide spectrum of stakeholders in health and the larger society,” he said.

He urged government to issue a policy directive for all government healthcare establishments to patronise pharmaceutical products manufactured in Nigeria, for all essential medicines’ tenders and purchases. He said that the Nigeria Drug Policy provides that 70 percent of government purchase should be sourced from local manufacturers.

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