As part of its investment in the Nigerian health sector, Shalina Healthcare Limited has announced plans to set up a drug manufacturing plant in the country to ensure people have access to affordable quality drugs in Africa.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), improving access to quality-assured affordable medicines is part of the basic right to health of citizens and a vital tool to achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
The Chief Executive Officer, Shalina Healthcare Limited, Abbas Virji, who disclosed this during a stake-holders conference in Lagos, said the company is committed to investing in Nigeria, hence the need to site a drug manufacturing plant in the country, which would ensure citizens have access to quality and affordable medicines.
He said the plant, which would be located on a large expanse of land along Lagos-Ibadan expressway will be as per the NAFDAC and WHO GMP standards and is expected to be commissioned by December 2020.
Virji said the company, founded by his father and named after his sister Shalina, has been operating in Africa for over thirty years with offices in Nigeria, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Ghana, Kenya and Central African Republic, having its WHO--approved production facilities in India and China, with its headquarters in Dubai.
The CEO noted that while India accounts for about 9,000 drug manufacturing industries, Africa has 450, which he said is insufficient to serve the population of the region, adding that building a local production plant in Nigeria would enhance availability and affordability of medicines to the over 197 million population, as well as serve other African countries.
"Nigeria doesn't have to rely on other countries for their health because it is not in the interest of her people. As a company, we want to invest in Nigeria and we believe if we make our products available and affordable, we would be able to reach the population of Nigeria and provide them with quality healthcare," he said.
Also speaking on the plant, the Regional Marketing Manager, West Africa, Pharm Folorunsho Alaran, said though, the challenges facing Nigeria's pharmaceutical sector are multifaceted, encouraging local manufacturing of drug is a panacea, which he said would also increase and improve the country's drug market. He said citing the company's plant in Nigeria would reduce the cost of importing drugs from its other production facilities outside the country, noting that it is a step towards advancing quality healthcare and health outcome as well as preventing burden of disease and reducing morbidity and mortality.
Alaran noted that the company, which is known for its diverse range of therapeutic products, including analgesics, dermatology, anti-malarials, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory gastrointestinal, anti-infectives and nutraceuticals among others, would work closely with the local communities to help people access affordable and quality medicines in order live longer and healthy.
Speaking on the economic benefit of the plant, the company's Managing Director, Somnath Malakar, said it would generate over 150 direct employments for Nigerians with its huge capacity as well as reduce brain drain in the pharmaceutical sector.
He said there is huge potential in the pharmaceutical industry, which requires local production that would help indigenous companies function and operate seamlessly in the country, and be able to take business and the industry forward.
"The plant can grow in size and the workforce, which is from 150 upwards. This would create more livelihood, engagement and as a business, it would help us get more meaningful investment going forward in this country."