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Nigeria moves to boost local manufacturing in health sector

Nigeria moves to boost local manufacturing in health sector

…Targets export of 1bn needles, syringes to UN

The Federal Government, on Tuesday, said it was designing a backward integration programme to strengthen the healthcare sector and address challenges faced by local manufacturers.

The initiative, expected to be launched soon, encompasses policies targeting medical devices and broader healthcare service delivery.

Backward integration is a process in which a company acquires or merges with other businesses that supply raw materials needed to produce its finished product. Businesses pursue backward integration with the expectation that the process will result in cost savings, increased revenues, and improved efficiency in the production process.

Doris Uzoka-Anite, the minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, shared details of the programme following a meeting with manufacturers of needles and syringes in Nigeria.

The initiative is aimed at tackling obstacles to local health sector manufacturers. In the last decade, several companies have ceased operations in Nigeria due to a challenging business environment.

No fewer than eight manufacturers of syringes and needles have shut operations in the country, with the latest being Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company, one Africa’s biggest manufacturers, which announced a temporary shutdown of its operations, citing harsh business and economic environment.

The minister’s meeting with the manufacturers was in response to the Executive Order of President Bola Tinubu to curb the escalating pharmaceutical costs in the country, exacerbated by the departure of pharmaceutical giants and currency devaluation.

Uzoka-Anite said the backward integration policy would contain incentives for manufacturers in the sector to be announced during its official launch, pending the approval of the federal executive council.

“We have designed a backward integration programme which incorporates policies that affect medical devices and the entire healthcare. We are going to launch this backward integration programme 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 utilisation for their industries, and 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 industrialisation, 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 practicable 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, Akin Oyeniran, the Managing Director of Afrimedical, expressed gratitude to the President for issuing an executive order aimed at safeguarding the medical industry. Oyeniran also extended appreciation to both ministers for their support, emphasizing that this marks the initial step towards propelling the sector forward.

Describing the meeting as highly productive, Oyeniran lauded the government’s commitment to revitalizing the industry. He stated, “It was a great meeting; the government has shown the motivation to bring back the industry. We presented our challenges, and they promptly provided solutions, indicating their dedication to addressing our concerns.”

Acknowledging Nigeria’s pivotal role as the primary supplier for other West African regions, Oyeniran expressed optimism about the positive impact on the economy. “Nigeria is the hope of supply for other West African regions, and with this support, we anticipate a resurgence in the industry, leading to the resumption of supplying medical goods to neighboring countries”, he said.

At the meeting, Manufacturers of the needle and syringe in the ciuntry announced plans to expand exports to meet both local and international demand.

They noted that Nigeria needs 1.2 billion syringes annually, the Manufacturers have capacity to produce 3 billion syringes and looks to export to other African countries, and the United Nations.

They look to leverage on the opportunity presented by thd UN, which recently announced its decision to be buy 40 percent of the required syringes from Africa, stressing that Nigeria stands the best chance to supply the 40 percent which is more than one billion syringes.