Home » Nigeria Launches New Policy to Support Local Health Sector Manufacturers

Nigeria Launches New Policy to Support Local Health Sector Manufacturers

The policy is expected to be launched soon after the approval of the federal executive council

by Motoni Olodun

Nigeria’s federal government has announced a new policy initiative to boost local production of medical devices and improve the quality of healthcare services in the country. The policy, known as the backward integration program, is expected to be launched soon after the approval of the Federal Executive Council.

The backward integration program is a process in which a company acquires or merges with other businesses that supply raw materials needed to produce its finished product. The aim is to reduce dependence on imports, save costs, increase revenues, and enhance efficiency in the production process.

The policy was revealed by Doris Uzoka-Anite, the minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, following a meeting with manufacturers of needles and syringes in Nigeria on Tuesday. The meeting was in response to the executive order of President Bola Tinubu to curb the rising costs of medical supplies in the country, worsened by the departure of some pharmaceutical giants and currency devaluation.

Uzoka-Anite said the policy would contain incentives for manufacturers in the sector to encourage them to increase their capacity and quality. She also said the policy would address the challenges faced by local health sector manufacturers, such as power supply, raw material availability, and market access.

“We have designed a backward integration program that incorporates policies that affect medical devices and the entire healthcare. We are going to launch this backward integration program with the approval of FEC. It is one policy that will change the game for the medical devices industry, and it is aimed at supporting their full capacity utilization for their industries, for us, it is a game-changer. It will contain incentives to support industries when launched to incentivize the manufacturers”, she said.

She assured that President Tinubu was committed to removing all hindrances to industrialization, specifically those affecting the syringe industry.

Mukhtar Muhammad, the minister of State for Health, expressed optimism that the new policy direction would attract more manufacturers to invest in the sector. He said the meeting discussed and explored many practical solutions where the government can begin to have some immediate solutions that would be incorporated in the executive order of President Tinubu to ensure permanent solutions.

“We addressed all the issues that put the industry on the path of sustainability where they can create jobs and have syringes of high quality. We are putting together detailed recommendations that will ensure the sustainability of the companies that are operating now, and whereby start producing at capacity. The essence is to ensure a sustainable base for these manufacturers to operate”, the minister said.

Also speaking, Mofid Karameh, chairman/CEO of Mikano International Limited, one of the needle and syringe manufacturers, announced plans to expand exports to meet both local and international demand.

He said Nigeria needs 1.2 billion syringes annually, but the company can produce 3 billion syringes and looks to export to other African countries, and the United Nations.

“We are expecting to export syringes to our neighboring countries. The UN this year decided to be buying 40 percent of the required syringes from Africa and Nigeria stands the best chance to supply their 40 percent which is more than one billion syringes. So, we believe and we are sure we can cover Nigeria, West Africa, and the UN.”

The new policy initiative is in line with the government’s vision to diversify the economy and reduce reliance on oil revenues. It is also expected to create more jobs, generate more income, and improve the health outcomes of Nigerians.

The policy is also in sync with the global trend of promoting local production of medical supplies, especially in the wake of the pandemic that exposed the vulnerabilities of relying on imports. According to the World Health Organization, local production can enhance access to essential health technologies and contribute to health security and universal health coverage.

The policy is a welcome development for the health sector and the economy at large, as it shows the government’s willingness to support local industries and foster innovation. It is hoped that the policy will be implemented effectively and efficiently and that it will inspire more investment and growth in the sector.

Source: Business Day

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