Medicine is so critical because it is the basis of the health of citizens. If the global drug supply system is affected in the same way that the food supply is currently affected due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, there will be a crisis in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

Although pharmaceuticals are currently manufactured in countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, overall Africa imports over 80% of its pharmaceutical and medical consumables.

This is an unsustainable situation if Africa and, in particular, Nigeria, are truly to be considered independent. Therefore, the federal government has disbursed a total of N100 billion to local pharmaceutical manufacturers and health sector investors in the form of loans to expand their businesses and boost local production of drugs and medical consumables.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the announcement in Abuja when he welcomed the new executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to the presidential villa.

The loan, the president said, was made available to the companies through support from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the private pharmaceutical sector.
He said the Health Sector Reform Committee, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, is exploring models to revitalize the country’s health system to improve the quality of care and the benefits package for care providers.
However, it should be noted that while it is good to congratulate the administration led by Buhari for the decision to make the pharmaceutical sector independent, it should also be observed that as early as 2007, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (now the Union Development Agency, AUDA-NEPAD) took similar steps to address Africa’s over-reliance on imported pharmaceuticals.

Then, AUDA-NEPAD, mandated by the decision of the AU Heads of State Assembly in 2005, developed what it called the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA).

In 2012, the Assembly of Heads of State approved a PMPA Business Plan which consists of a set of technical solutions to some of the critical challenges facing the continent’s pharmaceutical industry.

Undoubtedly, some of the recommendations contained in the PMPA for the independence of the pharmaceutical sector, if considered by the committee led by Osinbajo, can go a long way in addressing the problems associated with over-reliance on drugs in Nigeria.
Some of the recommendations include strengthening regulatory systems and establishing a one-stop-shop for information, data and business intelligence for industry players – governments, private sector, regional economic communities, etc.

To stimulate local pharmaceutical production and thereby improve public health outcomes, the PMPA business plan strongly encourages the procurement of medical products from African-based companies.

In addition to strengthening procurement and supply chain management systems, the plan recommends the use of group purchasing as a mechanism to incentivize local manufacturers to address maternal, newborn and child health.
Improved access, quality, availability and affordability of pharmaceuticals, as well as increased economic benefits through sustainability, competitiveness and industry self-reliance, are some of the -one of the objectives of the business plan.
The PMPA business plan highlights the urgency of addressing the challenges facing the industry. One of these challenges is the lack of affordable financing and modern technology, which hampers business expansion.

Other challenges are Africa’s small, fragmented markets and weak regulatory frameworks. Of course, insufficient human resource capacity is also hampering the growth of the Nigerian pharmaceutical sector, as are poor procurement and supply chain systems and policy inconsistencies in trade, industry, health and finance of the country.

Unfortunately, mainly due to a lack of financial capacity, Nigerian companies invest little or nothing in research and development and intellectual property protection.

Therefore, as the committee led by Osinbajo continues its work and the government led by Buhari extends loans to businesses, it should be remembered that no single company, government department or organization can, on its own, meet these challenges. Thus, it is recommended that the government go beyond providing business loans and embrace multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder collaboration with the aim of making the pharmaceutical sector truly flourishing and independent.

Ultimately, as requested by the president, the pharmaceutical association and other health sector stakeholders must support the initiatives championed by the federal government and work with the committees set up to develop the type of system health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians. in the 21st century.

The good news is that some opportunities are there to be explored. For example, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), if successfully implemented, will address the challenge of small, fragmented markets that have long deterred pharmaceutical industry investors.

African manufacturers, who currently operate in small, fragmented markets, cannot compete with their Asian counterparts who operate in much larger markets and therefore benefit from economies of scale. Economies of scale help companies save money through higher production volumes.
However, when all African countries ratify the AfCFTA, it will integrate a market of 1.3 billion people and potentially 2.2 billion people by 2050 and, then, African and Nigerian manufacturers, in particular , due to the country’s size and resources, will benefit from significant economies of scale and scope.

Garlands for Buhari’s helpers honored by the Republic of Niger
President Muhammadu Buhari this week congratulated two of his aides, Senior Special Assistant for Home and Domestic Affairs, Sarki Abba; and the Chief of State Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, for receiving the highest national civilian honors of the Republic of Niger.

Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, Governor Mohammed Matawalle of Zamfara State, businessmen and Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; and BUA Group Chairman Abdulsamad Rabi’u.

The President, when he received Abba and Kazaure when they brought him the certificates and medals of honor presented to them, said that he considers the honor given to them as emblematic of mutual friendship long-standing relationship between the two countries of Nigeria and Niger and their peoples.

And the relationship that Nigeria has with Niger and all African countries is deep and historic and forms the cornerstone of Nigeria’s foreign policy. The concept, “Africa as the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy”, originated in the First Republic with the then Tafawa Balewa government, giving Africa a prominent place in the formulation of foreign policy from Nigeria.

In line with this policy, Nigeria has massively provided solicited and unsolicited support to African countries, positively intervened in their internal crises, provided humanitarian services, distributed billions of naira for charitable purposes and sent professional Nigerians as technical bodies. Nigeria has also provided invaluable military support to African states in need.

In fact, since 2015, the Republic of Niger, a neighboring country in West Africa, has received good attention from the Nigerian government and has had a more special and closer relationship with Nigeria than others. African countries.

Currently, the Nigerian government is constructing a $2 billion railway that will connect Kano State to Maradi in the Republic of Niger. Maradi, the second largest city in the Republic of Niger, is considered the center of the country’s developing oil industry. The President proceeded to the inauguration ceremony of the new railway line on February 9, 2021.

A Portuguese construction company, Mota-Engil, has won the contract to build the 284 kilometer standard gauge line with 12 stations from Kano in northern Nigeria to Maradi in the landlocked Republic of Niger.

Since independence in 1960, the two countries have maintained close relations. Each party has based its diplomatic relations on non-interference in the internal affairs of the other. During the Nigerian Civil War, the President of the Republic of Niger, Hamani Diori, was an active mediator in the conflict.

Each side also relied heavily on its former colonial powers for defense support and, unlike the relationship between Nigeria and Cameroon and Niger and the Republic of Benin, there were no serious border disputes between Nigeria and Niger. The Hausa language and cultural ties are strong, but there is little interest in a pan-Hausa state.
Towns in southern Niger and northern Nigeria have been linked in trans-Saharan trade since the medieval period. Cities such as Kano and Katsina have long been the southern terminus of trade networks that support much of Niger’s economy. Nigeria benefits from agricultural trade and sales (especially Nigerien livestock going to Nigerian markets), while Niger’s most direct routes to foreign trade are through Nigeria and the Republic of Benin.

Thus, the President expressed his optimism that the long-standing friendship and fruitful cooperation between the two states will continue to grow stronger.
One area where relations between countries need to improve, of course, is security. Both states face cross-border attacks by terrorists.

Security threats along the international border between the Republic of Niger and Nigeria necessitated the establishment of a joint military border patrol in September 2018.

The primary objective of the joint security enterprise is to defeat and checkmate the threat of cross-border armed banditry and other crimes across the common porous borders of nations.

The president thanked President Mohammed Bazoun and Nigeriens for this recognition.

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