FG Targets Cutting Drug Importation to 40% to Boost Local Production
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government is targeting a reduction in the importation of medicated drugs into the country from 60 per cent to 40 per cent as part of efforts to promote local production.
The Special Adviser to the President on Health, Mra Salma Anas-Ibrahim, made this disclosure at a workshop organised to strengthen the World Health Organisation (WHO) Nigeria country cooperation strategy in Abuja.
According to Mrs Anas-Ibrahim, this is part of President Bola Tinubu’s priority agenda to bridge the gap in the country’s health sector.
Other priority areas include increasing and improving access to equal health care services and national health insurance for at least 40 per cent of Nigeria’s population to ensure all citizens, including the vulnerable group, are beneficiaries.
Nigeria is one of the top importers of drugs and pharmaceutical-related products, according to the United Nations COMTRADE, which is a database on global trade; Nigeria imported drugs valued at N2.97 billion as of 2020.
Another report from CEIC, a global data firm founded by economists and other experts, provided a different figure and said Nigeria imported medicinal and pharmaceutical products worth $417.523 million in 2020, higher than most African countries, third behind Egypt ($678.318 million) and South Africa ($637.748 million).
Nigeria has an over-dependence on India and China for the majority of its active pharmaceutical ingredients, also known as APIs, which are raw materials used in producing medicines since it does not have a strong industry that can manufacture and refine raw materials or inputs needed to efficiently produce the drugs.
Experts believe that the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 exposed the risk of relying on imported drugs and APIs.