It is the key to Nigeria’s future health security, argues Ade Shodeinde

As Nigeria strives to achieve self-sufficiency in healthcare and reduce its reliance on imports, the need for local manufacturing of health commodities cannot be overemphasized. With a rapidly growing population and an increasing burden of diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and cancer, the need for affordable and high-quality diagnostics and therapeutics has never been more critical. Local companies should be committed to meeting this need by investing in local biomedical manufacturing. Local companies with a focus on developing and producing in-vitro diagnostics (IVDs) that can help diagnose diseases accurately and quickly, and at an affordable cost. Some have state-of-the-art facilities and relatively experienced teams and can be proud to be leading the way in this critical area.

For example, Codix Pharma, a local company based in Lagos is setting a manufacturing facility in the Lagos area to produce glucose monitoring devices. Some pharmaceutical companies have already started and have invested which means Nigeria already has a very vibrant pharmaceutical industry accounting for an estimated 60% of ECOWAS pharmaceutical production by volume. Lagos is having a large concentration of pharma producers’ headquarters including GlaxoSmithKline, Fidson Healthcare, Vitabiotics and Emzor. They are not alone in this endeavour. Around the world, many companies are investing in local manufacturing to enhance healthcare access and create economic opportunities. For example, in India, there are several companies that have developed affordable diagnostics for diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, which has helped to reduce the burden of these diseases on the population. Similarly, in South Africa, there are companies that are developing and producing innovative therapies for cancer and other diseases that are prevalent in the count. Another South African company produces a rapid diagnostic test for HIV that can be used in remote areas without access to traditional lab testing. And a Ugandan company that is developing new methods for monitoring and treating HIV infections. Another significant example that was seen during the Covid pandemic was accelerated healthcare investment in countries like India with the rapid growth of Vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, a company which eventually became one of the biggest suppliers of Covid-19 Vaccines all over the world during the pandemic.

To accelerate the process of healthcare manufacturing, Manufacturing Africa, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting African manufacturing, has supported companies across the African continent in Uganda and South Africa and also here in Nigeria e.g. Promasidor Nigeria ltd, and Metro Africa Xpress (Max NG). For biomedical manufacturing, with the support of Manufacturing Africa, local companies like Ash Biomedical Diagnostics Ltd have moved closer to their goal of producing affordable and high-quality IVDs locally. Manufacturing Africa by partnering and providing support to such companies ultimately helped them move forward with technical expertise, valuable insights and as such, they are now better equipped to navigate the regulatory and funding landscape.

Also encouraging for local manufacturers is the federal government’s commitment to supporting local businesses through policies like the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan and the Buy Nigerian, Save the Naira initiative. These policies are designed to encourage local manufacturing and creating jobs, and we believe they will play a vital role in helping us to achieve our goals.

There is also a lot of optimism about the potential impact of the new government. With the recent election of a new president, there is hope that there will be a renewed commitment to supporting local businesses and developing policies that prioritize healthcare and access to life-saving treatments. By working together with the government, other companies, and organizations, local manufacturers like Ash Biomedical can make significant progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and beyond. Some companies like Ash Biomedical seem to be living up to this challenge. Having already secured regulatory approval for their facilities with ground breaking imminent, there is confidence that their products will meet the highest standards of quality and affordability, to serve the Nigerian people and the wider African continent.

In conclusion, investing in local manufacturing is a critical step towards achieving Nigeria’s future health security. By developing and producing high-quality and affordable diagnostics and therapeutics locally, we can enhance access to healthcare, create jobs, and promote economic growth. Local companies who have invested will be proud to be at the forefront of this movement, and there is renewed hope and optimism that there is a healthier and more prosperous future for Nigeria and Africa.

 Shodeinde is the Managing Director of Ash Biomedical Diagnostics Ltd based in Abuja

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