* ECOWAS requires $50m to battle epidemic
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned that the current outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, in China, puts the country in grave danger of drug insecurity, as most of the country’s medicines are imported.
This is coming as the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) yesterday said that about $50 million is required by West African countries to tackle Coronavirus.
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, stated this in a press conference yesterday in Abuja.
The NAFDAC boss who was speaking on the upcoming African Medicine Quality Forum (AMQF) meeting to hold from February 24-28, explained that Nigeria imports 70 per cent of its medicines and other active and non-active ingredients.
According to her, “70 per cent of our drugs are imported and the alarm I am sounding now is one everybody should take seriously. We have drug insecurity because of the coronavirus.
“India is already feeling it because they buy most of their materials and active ingredients from China. If India is feeling it, we should start praying because we don’t manufacture anything here except water; we import almost everything – active and non-active ingredients, equipment.
“So, it is a scary thing, and I have been emphasising this from day one. We need drug security. Since we import 70 per cent of our drugs, then, we are in trouble if such things happen”.
The NAFDAC boss also urged people to desist from cooking their foods with paracetamol, especially the use of the drug 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”.
Meanwhile, WAHO yesterday said that about $50 million is required by West African countries to tackle Coronavirus.
It said that amount will be used to create an ecosystem and put in place, critical personal protection equipment, laboratory supplies,communication and coordination strategies towards Coronavirus response.
The Director General of WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo who spoke at a press briefing by WAHO yesterday in Abuja, said that only about 18 countries in Africa including Nigeria have the laboratory capacity to test for the virus.
Okolo said that ministers of health of ECOWAS had at the emergency meeting on February 14, 2020 agreed to come up with a regional plan and strategy for coronavirus.
He said the meeting agreed that all the member states will support the plan to the best of their capacity.
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunmibe Mamora said that the federal government is monitoring the health of Nigerian citizens in China through the Nigerian Ambassador and will not hesitate to evacuate them if the need arises.
He said, “We are in touch with our Ambassador in China and the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria is also in touch with the ministry, and we are getting information on the condition of Nigerians in Wuhan and we are monitoring the health of our citizens. If and when the need arises to evacuate them, we will do so but we don’t want a situation we create panic. This is not time for fear; this is not time for stimatisation; it is time for science. Chinese government is testing everyone that is trying to leave China to ensure that they don’t go and spread the virus”.
Mamora who noted that Nigeria has a plan as part as its preparedness, said there may be need for Nigeria to assist some of her sister countries in ECOWAS.
He observed that though there are insinuations that Coronavirus may not survive in a very hot environment, government will not relax but rather will intensify its preparedness and response efforts to ensure that Nigerians are safe.