On the 22nd of June, the Senate passed a bill seeking to compel all federal Government hospitals to make use of only locally manufactured syringes and needles in their facilities.
The report was presented by the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe.
The Chairman, Oloriegbe stated a lot in his lead debate, giving some elaborations on the observations of the committee. He said:
“Research studies show that the majority of the imported Syringes and Needles are substandard, unsterile (used and rewashed syringes from Asian continent) hence endangering the lives, health and safety of Nigerians.
“Despite several policies of the Federal Government especially the introduction of 75% import duties on imported Syringes and Needles to deter importation, the Nigeria Customs Services has not been able to enforce this effectively, thereby leading to mass importation of cheap, substandard and unsterile Syringes and Needles.
“Importation of Syringes and Needles is killing local manufacturers making them to lay off staff and preventing them from contributing effectively to the economy.
“NAFDAC has a 5+5 policy which means at the end of five years the importer must migrate from importation to manufacturing. This policy is just two years in operation hence it has not been applied to this sector.
“The Federal Ministry of Health lacks policy on the procurement and utilization of Syringes and Needles by government-owned Hospitals and agencies.
“This has led to government-owned hospitals to sometimes procure and use substandard syringes and needles in their hospitals and medical centres.
“Compulsory requirement for manufacturers to register to pre-qualify for the World Health Organisation’s certification costs about $1.5billion.
“This has been an impediment to local manufacturers attaining this status and preventing their being patronized by organisations using donor funds.”
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After the presentation and due consideration by the Senate, the recommendations were approved:
“The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment should finalise the process of approval of the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) (for the sector) by the Federal Executive Council and commence the implementation of the Policy by 1st August 2021.
“As a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should fully implement 75 per cent import duties on the importation of syringes and needles and put stringent measures to the defaulters thereby encouraging local manufacturers and ensuring employment opportunities. Towards this end, the Nigeria Customs Service should enforce this policy.
“The Federal Ministry of Health should develop a policy on the procurement and utilization of syringes and needles by government hospitals and offices by 1st July 2021.
“That is within six (6) weeks all Federal Government owned hospitals are to use locally manufactured syringes and needles in order to strengthen local manufacturing.
“The syringes and needles manufacturers should take the advantage of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Special Intervention Fund for the Health sector to improve and extend their capacities.
“The Federal Ministry of Health should develop and implement a policy guideline that will ensure that all hospitals’ projects and programmes funded with the government of Nigeria’s funds to procure and use Syringes and Needles approved by relevant Nigerian Regulatory Bodies without a requirement for World Health Organisation’s prequalification.”