The Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) has been trying to curb the menace of substandard products. The SON is a body given the responsibility of ensuring that products manufactured within the country and products imported meet quality standards. This is to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens of the country. This body works hand- in- hand with National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigerian Customs to evaluate products being brought into the country and those produced within.
These organizations would have by now solved about 55% of this problem if they were properly funded by the government. Nigeria loses about N15 trillion to fake goods annually. Nigeria is ranked among the world’s highest market for fake and substandard goods.
Fake and substandard products span all categories of items from drugs, electrical, electronic household appliances, building materials, tyres and tubes, automobiles, machine spare parts, food and machines to mention a few. They all find their way into the Nigerian market.
The problem in the economy has crippled a lot of business activities causing producers to reduce the quality of their products. Goods are also springing up everywhere in the country, most without authorization, especially skin care products.
These bodies should stand up to the task of sensitizing the public especially those in the rural communities on which goods to buy and how to confirm their authenticity. They should tighten their checks on imported goods at the ports before they are distributed because it is almost impossible to stop the harm when they are in the market. The steady influx of substandard tyres, spare parts and drugs has caused great harm to the people of Nigeria.
The SON, NAFDAC and Customs need highly trained personnel as activities of those involved in substandard products are becoming more technical. The establishment and equipping of more laboratories should reduce the workload on existing ones. This will enable effective and efficient testing of goods.
NAFDAC has intensified efforts, introducing nationwide campaign in schools and plans to expand mobile technology approach, and taking the fight to the grassroots through its Young Pharmacists Group (YPG).
Fake and substandard drugs are a global threat to human lives, leading to treatment failure, organ dysfunction or damage, worsening of chronic disease conditions and the death of many Nigerians.
According to available information on essential medicine and health product information portal of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the proliferation of fake and substandard drugs in Nigeria has affected the credibility of the healthcare system. Further reports by the International Criminal Policing Association (INTERPOL), revealed that one million people die yearly from fake and counterfeit drug.
Recent studies evaluated the quality of drugs globally, which showed that 9.1 percent of drugs failed the basic quality control tests, with an estimated 16.6 percent drug failure rate in Africa, about one in every six pills.
The Financial Services Advisory Leader and Chief Economist, Project Blue, PWC Nigeria, Andrew Nevin, at the 90th Annual National Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in Umuahia, the Abia Stata capital, stated that Africa records at least 100,000 deaths, arising from fake drug-related ailments yearly, as counterfeits drugs account for 17 percent of the generic drugs in supply in Nigeria.
NAFDAC has advocated the passage of the bill which seeks life imprisonment, confiscation of assets and compensation of victims on conviction by the National Assembly.
––Ukpong Victoria, email@example.com