The Senate has issued the Federal Government with a 10 day ultimatum to develop a policy on the procurement and utilisation of Syringes and Needles by government hospitals and offices.
According to the Senate, the Ministry of Health should by July 1, 2021 put this in place and also ensure that within six weeks all Federal Government owned hospitals are to use locally manufactured Syringes and Needles as part of moves to strengthen local manufacturing.
The Senate has also asked the federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to finalise the process of approval of the Backward Integration Policy for the sector by the Federal Executive Council and commence the implementation of the Policy by 1st August 2021.
The Senate has also urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, 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, adding that the Nigeria Customs Services should enforce this policy. Decisions of the Senate were sequel to the consideration of the report of the Joint Committee on Health, Secondary and Tertiary; Trade and Investment and Customs, Excise and Tariff on the need to regulate the manufacturing, importation and use of Syringes and Needles to protect the lives and safety of Nigerians as well as the economy of the country presented by the Chairman, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe.
According to the Senate, 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 Senate has also asked the Federal Ministry of Health to 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 pre-qualification.
Presenting his report, Oloriegbe said that the Committee Observed that 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.
He said, ” Despite several policies of the Federal Government especially the introduction of 75 per cent 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 regulates seven products including Syringes and Needles. NAFDAC has a 5+5 policy which means at the end of 5 years the importer must migrate from importation to manufacturing. This policy is just 2 years in operation hence it has not been applied to this sector.
“The Federal Ministry of Health lacks policy on the procurement and utilisation 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 $1.5bn.
This has been an impediment to local manufacturers attaining this status and preventing their being patronised by organisations using donor funds.”