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Nkechi Ali-Balogun underscores effective communication in fight against illicit trade

Nkechi Ali-Balogun underscores effective communication in fight against illicit trade

The convener NECCI PR Roundtable 2023, Nkechi Ali-Balogun has identified communication as a strategic tool in the battle against illicit trade.

In her welcome address at the 23rd edition, held at the prestigious Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos recently, the veteran PR practitioner observed the pharmaceutical industry has witnessed remarkable advancements, boasting the potential to transform lives.

Regrettably, she added the dark shadow of illicit trade threatens the very core of the industry’s noble mission, jeopardizing public health and eroding the trust fundamental to the patient industry relationship.

Read also: Illicit trade in Pharma Industry to top discussion at NECCI conference

Specifically, Nkechi noted communication, as a powerful tool, in the battle against illicit trade.

To her, communication plays a vital role in sharing best practices, raising awareness and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, strengthening regulatory frameworks, and providing transparency within the supply chain to track products from manufacturer to patients.

Fielding questions from journalists, she disclosed, “right from the onset, the aim of the PR Roundtable is to bring to the fore topical issues that needed communication. Information is power and without information, we can’t have knowledge and without knowledge, we can’t have understanding. The PR Roundtable interrogates topical issues, importance of communication and how it impacts on relationships, businesses and lifestyle

On how she has weathered the storm in the last 23 years, she responded: “It’s all about passion and patriotism. Irrespective of what is happening, I love Nigeria. I know we have so much to celebrate and talk about in this country.”

Speaking on the theme of the event: “Fighting the Scourge of Illicit Trade In The Pharma Industry: The Role of Communication,” she stated: “I have seen people die taking fake drugs, I have seen people turning nurses overnight and patients are taken to their homes. It is on the increase. The question is, how long are we going to continue;? how long will the village man or market woman buy drugs without knowing whether it is fake or not;? how do they identify fake drugs or the implication of taking fake drugs?

In her keynote address, Moji Adeyeye, Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), , noted the danger the proliferation of sub-standard and falsified medicines pose to public health and economic growth

Specifically, she said illicit sales and distribution of sub-standard and falsified medicines were threatening the attainment of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and leading to global assault on public health globally.

This menace, she noted portends grave financial losses, possible divestment and close of shop for the pharmaceutical industry.

Adeyeye, however, said no single agency could undertake the battle alone, adding that the approach must be multi-faceted.

Saying concerted efforts were needed, she further identified gaps as uncoordinated drug distribution and supply chain system; drug hawking and proliferation of street/ open drug markets; increasing use of postal/ courier services for dispatch of small parcels of sub-standard and falsified medicines; availability of advanced technologies; reduced risks of prosecution; non-deterrent laws and weak penalties; proliferation of rogue online pharmacists/ unregulated sales of medicines online; ignorance, poverty and high cost of living; scarcity of medicines and abuse of free trade zones and lawful trade facilitation mechanisms.

Read also: Nkechi Ali-Balogun elected as 6th COFFHA president

On what NAFDAC is doing to bridge the gaps, she listed attainment of ISO9001:2015 certification and WHO Maturity Level 3, which implies that NAFDAC has reached the level of regulatory system operating as a stable, well-functioning and integrated system for the regulation of medicines and imported vaccines in an efficient, effective and transparent manner, to achieve Universal Health Coverage by access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicine and vaccines for all Nigerians.

Chairman NECCI PR Roundtable 2023, Senator Daisy Danjuma noted there is need to commend Nkechi for sustaining the programme for twenty three years. She assured: “We’ll try our best to support the programme.”