To mitigate the shortage of essential drugs, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigerian, PSN, on Thursday, appealed to the Federal government in the interim to issue directives to the Custom services to grant expedited clearance of health care and pharmaceutical in the ports, as many shipments are waiting at the Ports.
Meanwhile, the PSN has applauded n the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN on the decision to provide an N100 billion loan package to the health sector with a focus on the local manufacturing sector.
Speaking in Lagos, the President of PSN, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa also requested that all duties and levies on essential pharmaceuticals and healthcare equipment be suspended for the next three months.
He said the call for the suspension was to assure sustainable supply and pricing stability to Nigerians in dire need at this period of a global health emergency.
"Global supply chains have been disrupted, including dominant drug supply channels from China and India. In fact, many countries have or are planning to ban the export of drugs and medical supplies from their Countries. Clearly, we have no choice but to produce these items locally.
"As a result, the Committee has identified a few key local Pharmaceutical Companies who shall be granted Naira and FX funding facilities to support the procurement of raw materials and equipment required to exponentially increase local drug production in Nigeria. These loans would be granted at the single-digit interest rate and for long tenures, including granting necessary moratorium"
Further describing the decision of the CBN on the N100 billion, as a long-awaited development, he said: "For years, we have drawn attention to the dangers of total dependence on importation for our local drug needs. We have complained that this creates a real national security exposure, yet not much attention was paid to us.
The President noted that the society had argued that Pharmaceuticals should get part of the attention paid to Agriculture to all intents and purposes, as medicines come next to food.
"Though we would have wished that we had come to this realization before now, we believe it is better to 'be late than never. PSN applauds the CBN and the Bankers Committee for this bold action that is a major impetus to realizing the National Health Policy objective of producing a minimum of 70 per cent of our essential drugs need locally as companies access the special intervention funds and increase their capacities."
He added that the implementation would be quick, swift and wholesome, devoid of the usual lending bureaucracies of 'come today and come tomorrow'.