TWO Joint Senate Committees, Health, Industry Trade and Investment, have 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 are the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.

They were being invited over importation of syringes and needles from China and India despite policy guideline against it in Nigeria.

The chairman of the Health Committee, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, issued the summon on Monday 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’.

Members of the panel expressed displeasure over 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

They also berated NAFDAC for licensing companies in India and China to import syringes and needles into the country.

“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,” Oloriegbe said.

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.

The committee therefore asked Trade and Investment Minister to appear before it on April 15 to explain reasons the Backward Integration Policy, which was validated in 2017, had not been presented to Federal Executive Council for approval.

It also mandated NAFDAC to furnish it 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.

The committee directed the Health Minister to explain why public-own hospitals were not using locally-manufactured syringes.

Meanwhile, the President of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Akin Oyediran, said all the seven licensed local manufacturers had the potential to produce 2.4bn units of syringes per annum if provided with favourable business environment.

Source: PUNCH