Senate Committee Decries Non-implementation of Backward Integration Policy on Syringes, Needles

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  • BIP will boost job creation, say manufacturers
By James Emejo
The Senate Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary), has expressed concern over the non implementation of the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) on needles and syringes in the country, five years after it was validated by the government.
This is as medical device manufacturers said the implementation of BIP will help them scale up production, expand market and create jobs for Nigerians.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, at an investigative public hearing on a motion on “The Need to Regulate the manufacturing, Importation and Use of Syringes and Needles to Protect the Lives and Safety of Nigerians as well as the Economy of the Country”, wondered why the BIP policy drafted and validated in 2017 had not been put to use despite its importance to the economy.
The committee, consequently invited the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo and Director-General, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof  Mojisola Adeyeye to apprear before it on April 15 to provide clarification.
Specifically, Oloriegbe said Adebayo, must give reasons why a “policy validated since 2017 is still lying on his table as at 2021”.
He also sought to know from the minister, why the BIP for syringe and needle had not been implemented despite the fact that it is an essential commodity and product for this country.
The committee also asked Ehanire, to clarify if there’s an existing policy on syringe and needle utilisation in the country and why it had been jettisoned.
The lawmakers also sought to know why the federally owned hospitals and medical centers among others are not using locally manufactured syringe and needle.
The committee, also asked the NAFDAC DG to provide the list of companies that have been importing syringe and needles into the country and the quantities imported in the last 15 years.
It also enquired to know the numbers of companies which have transited from importation of syringe and needle to local production over the period.
The chairman, further demanded for evidences of post market survey for syringe and needles and specific reports issued by NAFDAC.
The hearing followed a resolution of the senate at plenary, which authorised a probe into the state of manufacturing, importation and policy guideline for syringe, needle in the country.
Sponsored by Oloriegbe (APC Kwara Central) and Senator Suleiman Umar, (APC, Kwara North), the motion raised issues bordering on the safety of Nigerians as well as  concerns that over one billion units per annum of syringe and needles are being imported into the country, in spite of available local capacity, thereby making the country to lose huge foreign exchange, among other things.
They noted that investment in the sub-sector is estimated to be about N64 billion with a potential market value of about N100 billion that could be created locally, engaging about 3000 Nigerians directly and saving the country about $150 million in foreign exchange requirement per annum.
However, President, Medical Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MMAN), Mr. Akin Oyediran, told journalists at the hearing, that the real issue was not about the of importation on the subsector but rather about “how much we are exposing Nigerians to substandard syringes coming in from China”.
He said the BIP policy was drafted about five year ago adding that the industry had been working closely with the ministry of industry, trade and investment to ensure that the policy gets implemented.
But, he said the seeming tardiness on the part of the government had necessitated the intervention by the senate.
He also assured that the seven medical devices manufacturers currently operating in the country under the association have the capacity to produce quality syringe and needles of international standard to meet local demand.
He said:”Quality is not questionable at at all. We meet all the international standards.”
The demand for syringe and needle in Nigeria is currently between 2 billion to 2.5 billion a year.
Oyediran, who is the Managing Director, Jubilee Syringes, said:”Right now with all the seven manufacturers, we are doing about 1.95 billion a year which means if we have the support of government particularly in this area of backward integration, we will scale up and be able to produce in a matter of months.
“The support we seek is for the government to implement the backward integration policy. And for us to be able to scale up, we need the BIP to be in place so that we can now have the market to sell to.”