By Martins Ifijeh
The President, Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA), Dr Anthony Ikeme, has called on the federal government to develop and execute a blueprint for the economic development of the pharmaceutical industry.
Ikeme made the call during at the ongoing 23rd annual national conference of the Association of Industrial Pharmacists of Nigeria (NAIP) in Kano.
The NAIP conference brings together stakeholders in the medical and pharmaceutical value chain, including manufacturers, distributors, marketing and sales, as well as government representatives and policymakers, to discuss issues and develop a pathway forward for the industry.
Ikeme, who delivered his address virtually from the United States, said a long overdue blueprint has become more pressing following the devastation by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has further exposed the inherent weaknesses in the nation’s healthcare system.
He said: “Perhaps our greatest failure is in the lack of an actively executed national strategy for Nigeria’s pharmaceutical economic sector development. Nigeria must come up with a deliberate and actively executed strategy. Nothing less will do.
“Such bold step is needed now to ensure we develop a robust and globally competitive pharmaceutical sector that can take advantage of the COVID-19-induced global supply deficiencies. We must efficiently deploy all facets of our national human resource asset and machinery towards achieving our national pharmaceutical sector strategy.”
He assured of the support of NAPPSA and other Nigerian diaspora groups for the actualisation of such strategy in the form of direct investment, skill and knowledge transfer through trainings and mentorship and facilitation of institutional and organisational relationships between their institutions in diaspora and local pharmaceutical companies.
According to the NAPPSA president, COVID-19 has exposed the grave danger globally, including for Nigeria, of overreliance on China for most medical and pharmaceutical supplies, adding that such reliance exposes the country to grave security risks and vulnerabilities, weakens the ability to develop the pharmaceutical sector, and constitute a huge drain on foreign reserves.
On his part, the President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Sam Ohuabunwa commended NAIP for its central role over the years, “in the pursuit of the industry’s cardinal objectives of improving local content and improving local value addition.”