To regulate the pricing of pharmaceuticals and reduce the expenses associated with essential medications in Nigeria, Ali Pate, the minister of health, announced that the federal government will soon implement an executive order. Pate made this announcement during a press briefing on Wednesday, following the conclusion of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Bola Tinubu. Emphasizing the need for a thriving local drug manufacturing industry, Pate stated that the executive order intends to maintain equitable pricing for vital medicines.
The minister made the announcement, explaining that competition has been reduced due to the exit of several prominent multinational pharmaceutical companies from the country. Aligning with the president’s goal of renewed hope, with a focus on the well-being of Nigerians and their access to healthcare and social support, the president made three significant decisions during the federal executive council meeting. These decisions primarily concern the health sector, as stated by the minister because Nigeria is facing a multitude of challenges in the pharmaceutical sector.
Soaring prices of medicines make them unaffordable for people.
Also, the foremost concern is the soaring prices of medicines, rendering them unaffordable for the majority of Nigerians. This dire situation extends beyond medicines alone; even essential and life-saving commodities such as syringes and needles have become increasingly beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. Another alarming issue is the departure of significant companies from the market, exacerbating an already fragile pharmaceutical landscape. The sector’s regulation, in order to safeguard human health and well-being, constitutes one of the crucial decisions. Moreover, another pivotal decision revolves around addressing the daunting challenge of human resource scarcity in the healthcare sector.
In October of last year, the president, in a display of great wisdom, gave his approval for an initiative aimed at unlocking the potential of the healthcare value chain. Additionally, a coordinator was appointed to oversee this endeavor. However, it has come to their attention that pharmaceutical prices have skyrocketed, leading numerous entities to retreat from the market. Furthermore, local manufacturers in Nigeria are currently facing significant challenges. The president aims to initiate actions that empower local manufacturers to not only survive but also prosper, ensuring the production of essential goods crucial for their survival.
Many of the health related challenges will be solved by the order.
As he has instructed the nation’s attorney general to collaborate with them in formulating an executive order, the first crucial stride will soon be taken. This order will serve as the means through which he will take action, addressing the distressing reality that many Nigerians are burdened with expensive pharmaceuticals and other medical instruments. This significant initiative is imminent. In regards to the second decision, the minister affirmed that the medical and dental council will persist in securing financial support and exemption from reductions that may affect various other professional associations.
He stated that the third decision pertains to their severe deficit of human resources. They are fully aware of this issue, having extensively visited numerous hospitals, specifically those under federal tertiary care. The process of replacing departing healthcare professionals often drags on extensively due to the various stages involved in obtaining a waiver. However, this can be accelerated in order to swiftly recruit unemployed health workers while remaining within the confines of their financial resources.
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Similarly, a report in 2015 from the United Nations revealed that around 1.6 million lives were claimed by malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV-related illnesses in Africa. The availability of timely and affordable medicines, vaccines, and other health services has the potential to prevent or treat these diseases effectively. Only a small fraction of medications consumed in Africa, less than 2%, are actually manufactured within the continent. Consequently, numerous patients suffering from illnesses are deprived of the opportunity to obtain drugs made locally while simultaneously struggling to afford the expense of imported alternatives.