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  • Sunday, June 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lagos to establish essential medicines agency for easy access to drugs

The Lagos State government has announced plans to establish the Lagos State Essential Medicines Agency (LSEMA) to ensure seamless management and distribution of essential medicines within the state.

Akin Abayomi, the health commissioner, stated this while briefing journalists on Wednesday at the ongoing 2024 ministerial briefing to mark the first year of the second term of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration.

He said the planned agency would transform the management and distribution of essential medicines, in line with the Federal Government’s mandate for every state to set up a drug management agency.

“The establishment of a Drug Management Agency is designed to address significant challenges in the supply chain by introducing a structured and technologically-driven approach to the procurement, storage, and distribution of health commodities”, he said.

Abayomi listed the expected benefits of the planned agency to include robust regulation of medicine flow, improved access to quality drugs, enhanced health planning data, and increased internal revenue generation through efficient drug sales. He also noted that applying economy of scale during bulk purchases would help maintain stable prices for essential medicines regardless of economic fluctuations.

“We are now at the stage where we are beginning to track the need for a medical drug agency for Lagos State to make sure we control the prices of drugs with economies of scale and bulk purchasing, improve the quality of drugs in Lagos by providing additional quality assessment of the drugs that are brought into Lagos, and to improve the efficiency of movement of drugs through our facilities so that we will never have a situation of stock out”, he added.

He emphasised the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs), stating that LSEMA would leverage productive partnerships with the private sector to enhance operational capacities. The agency will act as a regulator, ensuring close cooperation with national regulatory bodies like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to maintain strict quality standards for all essential medicines distributed within the state.

“Recognising the value of collaboration, LSEMA will leverage Public-Private Partnerships to enhance operational capacities. This approach will combine public oversight with private sector efficiency and creativity, particularly in areas such as logistics and the day-to-day management of drug supplies”, Abayomi stated.

The agency will explore innovative financing models to address funding challenges, including private-sector investments. The financial structure is designed to ensure the agency is self-sustaining, with revenues generated through the sale of medicines.

Reaffirming the administration’s commitment to addressing significant challenges in the supply chain of essential medicines, Abayomi noted that the strategic direction of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration was focused on transforming the health sector from a cost centre to a significant contributor to the state’s economy.

“We envision a system where every Lagosian has access to quality healthcare, supported by efficient, technology-driven management systems, and a clear, comprehensive referral system. Our efforts are guided by the vision of developing a robust, egalitarian, and liberal health system that ensures equitable access and freedom of choice for all residents”, he said.

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