Lately, drug manufacturing in Nigeria is on the decline and the main reasons for this are infrastructural challenges, like lack of consistent energy supply as well as inadequate financial support to up and coming pharmaceutical scientists. Other challenges include difficulties in the over dependence of imported raw materials, weak technology and engineering base, weak industrial linkages and supply chain with high taxation.
Nearly all of the local drug manufacturers purchase active pharmaceutical ingredients from other manufacturers and formulate them into finished drugs. This means that they are limited to purchasing drugs and repackaging them for use.
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is generally known for providing support for research and development in institutions in the country of which the health sector isn’t left out. TETFund’s intervention often covers universities and other health parastatals in the areas of medical research as well as provided facilities for treatment of major ailments.
In this light, TETFund has recently promised to provide financial support to four public agencies for the purpose of producing drugs. One of the public agencies to benefit from this, is the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD).
The NIPRD as we know, is a Parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria which comes under the Federal Ministry of Health, the Parastatal mainly conducts research on pharmaceuticals raw materials, drugs and biological products. NIPRD majorly works in collaboration with other organisations both national and international partners.
This pledge of support from TETFund was disclosed by the executive secretary in person of Prof Suleiman Bogoro during a virtual meeting on the ‘Institutionalization of R and D in Nigeria’s Pharmaceutical Subsector Thematic Group’, which coincided with the one year anniversary of the establishment of the TETFund Research and Development Standing Committee (RDSC).
Bogoro made it known that NIPRD would collaborate with the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan to carry out research and production of phytomedicine.
Phytomedicine is a herbal medicine with therapeutic and healing properties. It came into existence since the advent of human civilization.
With the numerous health challenges that Nigeria faces ranging from communicable to non-communicable diseases, pharmacotherapy is the mainstay for vast majority of conditions. Ensuring national sufficiency and drug security is crucial in tackling diseases, reducing mortality and catering for other health care needs.
However, there is currently no significant research and development activity in the country and most of the pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria have not been able to fully navigate these challenges which makes the operation in the country sub-optimal.
Moving forward, While developing a sustainable and efficient local drug industry in Nigeria would take decades of dedication by both the private sector and government.
I strongly believe that TETFund partnering with the NIPRD on pharmaceutical research will bring about a new beginning and great improvement in the health sector because Nigeria is richly blessed with thousands of medicinal herbs and this is an opportunity for us to strategically improve our research on herbal medicines for diseases management and to also improve access to various medicines.
Rahma Olamide Oladosu is a Staff Writer with the Economic Confidential