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Nigeria faces drugs shortage due to Coronavirus, NAFDAC warns

Drugs shortage is likely in the country should the Coronavirus epidemic continue in China, theNational Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) warned on Monday.

The agency boss, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said India which Nigeria depends on for a greater percentage of its drug imports, has already been hit by the ravaging effects of the virus.

India buys most of their materials and active ingredients from China while  Nigeria imports 70 per cent of its medicines as well as  active and non-active ingredients mostly from the South Asian country.

Nigeria, according to NAFDAC,  should be worried about the development since ”we don’t manufacture anything here except water.”

The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, gave the warning during a news briefing yesterday in Abuja on the  African Medicine Quality Forum (AMQF) meeting scheduled for  February 24 and 28.

She said: “70 per cent of our drugs are imported and the alarm I am sounding now is one everybody should take seriously. We have drug insecurity because of coronavirus.

“India is already feeling it because they buy most of their materials and active ingredients from China. If India is feeling it, we should start praying because we don’t manufacture anything here except water; we import almost everything – active and non-active ingredients, equipment, etcetera.”

The NAFDAC boss also urged Nigerians to desist from cooking food  with paracetamol, especially  to  soften  meat.

She said: “When paracetamol is subjected to heat while cooking with it, it changes to para-aminophenol and benzoquine, which destroys the kidney. We have done a lot of enlightenment because the major problem of our people is ignorance and illiteracy.

“We haven’t made any arrest because to do that, we will need to test the pots of soup containing these substances at our office. Another reason is because we are short of staff, but I think the government is doing something about this.”

On enforcements against peddlers of fake  and substandard medicines,  Adeyeye said the agency was collaborating with the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN), especially in markets that are not approved or those known for substandard medicines.

She explained that NAFDAC was also in talks with online stores   so  that any advertiser that want to sell medicine   on their platforms is  registered with PCN.

Adeyeye  added: “Part of our global bench marking is to have qualitative laboratories with well-trained staff. We have been equipping our laboratories on a daily basis in terms of making sure that whatever we test or we want to test, we have equipment for them, and that our tests are reliable.

“We have five ISO accredited laboratories; however, we want the central drug laboratory to be World Health Organization (WHO) pre-qualified.”

The AMQF is a Technical Working Group of African Medicines Regulatory Harmonization (AMRH), with goal to build and strengthen the capacity of African countries in medicines, quality control and regional post-marketing surveillance.

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The Federal Government assured Nigerians, especially those in Wahun, that it was monitoring their health situation through “our  Ambassador in China.”

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunibe Mamora, also said the government would not hesitate to evacuate Nigerians in China, especially in Wahun if the need arose.

He said: “We are in touch with our Ambassador in China and the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria is also in touch with the ministry. We  are getting information on the condition of Nigerians in Wuhan and we are monitoring the health of our citizens.

“If and when the need arises to evacuate them, we will do so but we don’t want a situation where  we create panic. This is not time for fear, this is not time for stigmatisation, it is time for science.”

Mamora, who spoke at a new conference   on the  resolutions reached by the Ministers of Health of the Economic Community of West African States on regional preparedness and response to the ongoing Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, added that the  ”Chinese government is testing everyone that is trying to leave China to ensure that they don’t go and spread the virus.”

According to him, the ministers who met in Mali, emphasised the urgency of the current situation regarding Covid-19 (Coronavirus), adding that following expert presentations on the global situation, the ministers resolved to strengthen coordination, communication, and collaboration among member states in preparedness for Covid-19 epidemic, including cross-border collaboration.

Director-General of WAHO,   Prof. Stanley Okolo,   dismissed reports that the virus cannot   not survive in Africa.

He said no country or region was immune,  adding that though there might be seasonal variations, weather conditions might  determine the rapidity of spread.

A  sigh of relief however occurred yesterday as the Chinese government approved the marketing of an anti-viral drug for the treatment of Covid-19, a virus that has claimed 1,770 lives.

The drug, Favilavir, formerly known as Fapilavir, according to a Chinese daily newsletter,  has shown efficacy in treating the disease.

As of Sunday, more  than 10,844 patients had  been cured with the drug  and discharged from hospital.

The Chinese National Health Commission also stated that it received 70,548 reports of confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland, including  the 1,770 deaths and  the 10,844   discharged from hospital. There still remained 7,264 suspected cases.

Also, the Chinese government said it has been able to contain 99 per cent of cases within its  borders through lockdowns. “Since the outbreak, China has been taking decisive and unprecedented measures, including locking down cities, to protect public health both domestically and globally. Thanks to the self-imposed sacrifices, the world has so far not seen a major global outbreak,” the newsletter stated

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