*Probes State of Manufacturing, Importation and Policy Guideline for Syringe, Needles
*Summons Health Minister, Trade Minister, NAFDAC DG, others
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
The Senate, Thursday, raised the alarm that the majority of the imported syringes and needles are substandard, unsterile that are used and rewashed syringes from the Asian continent and thereafter imported into the country.
The Senate is however carrying a holistic probe into the state of manufacturing, importation, and policy guideline for syringe and Needles in Nigeria.
According to the Senate, against the backdrop that the imported syringe and Needles are already used and released, they then endanger the lives, health, and safety of Nigerians.
The Senate also said that it is worried that an estimated over 1 Billion units per annum of syringe and needles are being imported into the country making the country lose huge foreign exchange, just as it said that the estimated requirement of syringe and needle in the country is 1.5-2 Billion units per annum.
Consequently, the Senate has directed its Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary) to summon the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire to provide an explanation on the policy for the procurement and utilization of syringe and needles by federally, state, and privately owned hospitals and agencies of the Ministry.
Resolutions of the Senate yesterday were sequel to a motion titled “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, sponsored by Senator. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, APC, Kwara Central and co-sponsored by Senator Suleiman Umar, APC, Kwara North.
The Senate has also directed its Committees on Trade and Investment and Customs, Excise, and Tariff to summon the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, retd; the Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye of syringe and needles and any other relevant persons or body to intimate them on the state of manufacturing, importation and policy guideline for syringe and needles in Nigeria.
Earlier in his presentation, Senator Oloriegbe said that the Senate is “Aware that syringes and needles are essential medical products used for the administration of drugs parentally (Intravenous, Intramuscular, Subcutaneous) to safe human lives. It is also used for the collection of blood samples for purpose of laboratory tests and in some surgical procedures;
“Aware also that if not sterilized “and of the right quality, the use of syringes and needles could cause disease and even death to the patient. Hence, instead of being a life-saving instrument, it becomes a danger to the patient.
According to him, the Upper Chamber is “Further aware that syringe and needle manufacturing is a very strategic Industry for National development particularly in the Health sector and is also of great importance in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) on Good Health (SDG 3) and good Job/Economic Growth (SDG 8). The syringe manufacturing industry is a developing sector in Nigeria and has seven (7) existing manufacturing factories, cut across the Nation;
“Notes that investment in the sub-sector is estimated to be about 64 Billion Naira with a potential market value of about 100 Billion Naira that could be created locally, engaging about 3000 Nigerians directly and saving
Nigeria about 150 Million Dollars in foreign exchange requirement per annum;
“Notes that the estimated requirement of syringe and needle in the country is 1.5-2 Billion units per annum.”
He said that the Senate “Notes that certified and approved local manufactures of syringe and needles in Nigeria by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) have the capacity to produce 1.6 Billion units per annum with a potential to produce 2.4 Billion units per annum if provided with favorable business environment;
“Worried that despite this capacity, an estimated over 1 Billion units per annum of syringe and needles are being imported into the country making the country to lose huge foreign exchange;
“Further worried that majority of the imported syringes and needles are substandard, unsterile (Used and rewashed syringes from Asian continent) hence endangering the lives, health, and safety of Nigerians;
“Concerned that despite the introduction of 75% import duties on imported syringes and needles, the Customs department is not enforcing this, enabling mass importation of cheap substandard and unsterile syringe and needles. This action is killing the local manufacturers making them lay off staff and preventing them from contributing effectively to the economy;
“Concerned further that the plan to establish and implement a Backward Integration Policy (BIP) to feel the gap between need and local production by the Ministry of Trade and Investment has not been given the desired necessary action. This has contributed to the indiscriminate importation and killing of the Local manufacturing efforts; and
“More concerned that the Federal Ministry of Health does not have an effective policy on the procurement and utilization of syringe and needles by the federally owned hospitals and agencies. This has led to federally owned hospitals to sometimes procure and use substandard syringe and needles in their centers.”