The Senate Committee on Health has summoned the Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo over continued importation of syringes into the country at the detriment of local manufacturers.
The Senate committee also invited the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Director-General, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.
Chairman of the committee, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, issued the summons on Monday at a public hearing 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.”
The committee expressed displeasure over the failure of Ministry of Trade and Investment to implement the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) on local production of syringes five years after it was validated.
It also criticised NAFDAC for licensing companies Indian and Chinese companies to import syringes into the country.
Oloriegbe said, “You can’t keep licensing agents outside Nigeria to import syringes, while local firms are dying. There is no complexity in the production of syringes.”
He said that in spite of the capacity of the local firms to meet the market demands, an estimated 1 billion units per annum of syringe and needles were being imported into the country making the country to lose huge foreign exchange.
He therefore asked the Minister of Trade and Investment to appear before the committee on April 15 to explain why the BIP, which was validated in 2017, has not been presented to the Federal Executive Council for approval.
The committee mandated NAFDAC to furnish it with the list of companies that have been importing syringes into the country in the last 15 years, the quantity imported, evidence of checks on licensed foreign companies and licensing fees.
The committee directed the Health Minister to explain why public-owned hospitals were not using locally-manufactured syringes.
Meanwhile, the President of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MEDMAN), Akin Oyediran, said all the seven licensed local manufacturers have the potential to produce 2.4 billion units of syringes per annum if provided with favorable business environment.
“The syringes needed in Nigeria are between 2 billion to 2.5 billion annually. All the seven local manufacturers have the capacity to produce 1.95 billion a year.
“But if we have the support of the government, especially the implementation of BIP, they will scale up to produce all the demands in a matter of months.
“The quality is world class. The quality is not questionable,” he said.