NMA president to FG: Establish health sector development bank, reduce tariffs on drugs

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Uche Ojinmah, president of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), says the federal government should set up a health sector development bank to encourage local pharmaceutical companies.

Ojinmah spoke on Tuesday at a webinar, “Addressing the escalating costs of medicines”, organised by TheCable to mark its 10th anniversary. 

The NMA president noted that setting up a health sector development bank would help the local pharmaceutical industry to thrive.

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He said the federal government must also ensure a reduction in importation tariffs on drugs to attract foreign investors.

“Nigeria needs to urgently declare a state of emergency, especially the pharmaceutical sector. Nigeria should go full blast in supporting the local manufacturing sector in the pharmaceutical industry with the full regulation of NAFDAC,” Ojinmah said.

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“Nigeria should inaugurate a health sector development bank that will have different facilities for all the health care contributors and stakeholders, such that they can go to this bank fulfil the conditions which should not be as stringent as the one in CBN.

“It will encourage pharmaceutical companies to go into production of drugs we need today like antibiotics, anti-hypertensives and anti-diabetes.

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“Reduce import levy on importation, equipment and production of these drugs to enable people to bring in drugs into the country.

“We would be the greatest beneficiary as economic productivity will rise, attract foreign investments. Government should also bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in terms of accessing medicines.”

Ojinmah said it is important for the federal government to hasten the health insurance programme, to help Nigerians access a good healthcare system.

“It has become imperative for health insurance to be expedited such that many Nigerians will come under national health insurance. I believe if we put these together it will help,” he added.

“We must understand the role the health care industry plays in attracting investors. Nigerians are going deeper into poverty as a result of purchasing healthcare as about 70 per cent of Nigerians rely on out-of-pocket expenditures, which in turn implies worsening insecurity.

“Our policymakers should stop telling us about plans and start rolling out these programmes before it becomes too late, and frustrates medical doctors.”

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