Economist hails FG’s determination to invest in local vaccine production

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The federal government has been praised for its determination to invest more to help Nigeria’s pharmaceutical and research agencies produce locally developed vaccines.

Mr. Friday Udoh, chief coordinator of the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN), South-South, praised Friday in an interview with the Nigerian News Agency (NAN).

According to Udoh, the president’s statement was appropriate since such investments would reduce the pressure on the Naira as well as the country’s trade deficit.

Udoh, also a member of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in the United States, said President Buhari had good intentions on his administration’s determination to maximize the inherent resources to develop vaccines.

Such determination, he said, puts Nigeria in an advantageous position should another pandemic break out in the future.

“Human capital abounds in the country for the improvement of local pharmaceutical capacities as a means not only to promote the transfer of technology, to build capacities, but also to improve access to essential medicines for the poorest in society. .

“The United Nations COMTRADE estimates the cost of importing pharmaceuticals from Nigeria in 2019 at $ 1.45 billion and over 70% of drugs consumed in the country are imported.

“This is largely due to the country’s low production capacity, a situation that could hardly be explained by the expenditure of higher education and research institutions in the country.

“On that note, I will say that I am in tune with Mr. President’s statement because it will reduce the pressure on the naira and the country’s trade deficit,” Udoh said.

Udoh said, however, that it would hardly be possible to achieve such policy statements unless there is an evidence-based policy and a proactive framework to achieve the goals.

He said: “Tax incentives and exemption from import duties for at least three years on imported raw materials and pharmaceutical machinery are necessary for profitability.

“Improving or introducing a more robust framework is also important, both in terms of rule making and improving human capital stocks.

“A number of small and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies may not be able to implement quality assurance or funding compliance and recover costs, but large companies due to economies of scale may afford it. and always reach the breakeven point. “

What is needed to develop local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, he added, would include special funding to support start-ups in the sector.

“It will contain the regulatory cost, improved product quality, to compete with imported products. “

Buhari had, in his national broadcast to mark the 61st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence on Friday, reminded the global community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable.

He also told the nation that his administration could not afford a situation where a handful of countries are keeping the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations.

“We must act now to accelerate the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.

“As we strive to procure vaccines for our immediate needs, we will invest more to help our pharmaceutical and research agencies come up with ideas for locally developed vaccines.

“If another pandemic were to occur in the future, our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready? ” he said.

Buhari also called on the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and international pharmaceutical companies and research organizations to improve national pharmaceutical capacity. from Nigeria.

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