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Senate fumes, invites ministers, NAFDAC DG over syringe, needles importation

TWO Joint Senate Committees, Health, Industry Trade and Investment, have shown their displeasure over the failure of the Ministry of Trade and Investment to implement the Backward Integration Policy on local production of syringes five years after it was validated

The committees noted that lapse on the part of the ministry is being exploited by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration which keeps licensing companies in India and China to import syringes and needles into the country.

The committees, therefore, summoned the Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo; and his counterpart in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

Also to appear before the joint panels over the matter is the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.

The chairman of the Health Committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, issued the summon yesterday at a public hearing organised by the panels.

This was sequel to a Senate motion titled, ‘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’.

Reacting to the importation of syringes and needles into the country from India and China, Oloriegbe, said, “You can’t keep licensing agents outside Nigeria to import syringes, while local firms are dying. There is no complexity in the production of syringes.”

He said despite the capacity of the local firms to meet the market demands, an estimated one billion units of syringe and needles were being imported into the country per annum making the country to lose huge foreign exchange.

Explaining why each minister must appear before them on April 15, the committees said Niyi Adebayo of Trade and Investment has a case to answer on why the Backward Integration Policy, which was validated in 2017, had not been presented to Federal Executive Council for approval.

They also mandated NAFDAC to furnish them with the list of companies that had been importing syringes into the country in the last 15 years, the quantity imported, evidence of checks on licensed foreign companies and licensing fees.

As for the Health Minister, the committees said Ehanire will explain why public-own hospitals were not using locally-manufactured syringes to boost local investment.

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