Imported syringes, needles: Senate summons Health, Trade ministers, NAFDAC DG

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo and the Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye to appear it in the next two weeks.

According to the Senate, failure on the part of the Ministers and NAFDAC boss to appear to intimate the Upper Chamber explain why a policy of 2017 by the Federal Government has not been implemented as well as about the manufacturing, importation, and policy guideline for syringes in Nigeria, just as Trade and Investment Minister will appear to explain reasons for why the Backward Integration Policy (BIP), which was validated in 2017 was still on his table and has not been presented to Federal Executive Council for approval.

Speaking in Abuja during an Investigative 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.”, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health ( (Secondary and Tertiary), Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, APC, Kwara Central threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the Ministers and the Director-General of NAFDAC if they fail to appear April 15th.

The Health Committee members who expressed dismay over the failure of the Ministry of Trade and Investment to implement the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) on local production of syringes five years after it was validated, said that for the singular reason that tariff on Imported Syringes and Needles is not implemented, imported ones have become cheaper than the locally produced ones.

The Senate decided to summon the Minister when the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry was absent and when the representative of the Trade and Investment Minister, the Director, Chemical and Non- Petrochemical, Janet Nwoke could not provide answers thrown to her by the Lawmakers.

Oloriegbe who particularly took a swipe at NAFDAC for licensing companies in India and China to import syringes into the country, 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.”

According to him, despite the capacity of the local firms to meet the market demands, an estimated over 1 Billion units per annum of syringes and needles were being imported into the country, thereby making the country lose what he described as huge foreign exchange.

The Senate asked 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 as well as evidence of checks on licensed foreign companies and licensing fees.

On the part of the Minister of Health, he was asked to come and explain why public-own hospitals are not using locally-manufactured syringes.

Speaking at the event, the President of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MEDMAN), Akin Oyediran who noted that all the seven licensed local manufacturers have the potential to produce 2.4 Billion units of syringes per annum if provided with a favourable business environment, said, “The syringes needed in Nigeria is between 2 billion to 2.5 billion annually. All 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 Backward Integration Policy, they will scale up and would be able to produce all the demands in a matter of months. The quality is world-class. The quality is not questionable.”

On the losses incurred as a result of the importation of syringes, Oyediran said: “The issue is not how much losses we have incurred, but how much we are exposing Nigerians to substandard syringes coming into the country.

Recall that the Senate had last month 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.

Against this backdrop, the Senate however began a holistic probe into the state of manufacturing, importation and policy guideline for syringe and Needles in Nigeria.

According to the Senate, because 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 was 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 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 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 had 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.

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