Home News FG urged to remove tariffs on essential drugs import

FG urged to remove tariffs on essential drugs import

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

A non-governmental organisation, Diabetes Control Media Advocacy Initiative (DICOMAI), has appealed to the Federal Government of Nigeria to remove import duties on essential drugs, to ameliorate the increased cost of managing diseases.

The appeal is contained in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman Board of Trustees and Executive Director of DICOMAI, Dr Afoke Isiavwe and Sam Eferaro respectively, on Friday in Lagos.

The NGO said the measure would be a life-saving relief for many patients managing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

It said that more than five million Nigerians were living with diabetes and like elsewhere in the world, the number of cases was increasing daily.

DICOMAI decried the present high cost of drugs following the removal of fuel subsidy and other policies.

He urged the government to urgently evolve measures to make drugs and other medical intervention affordable for the citizens.

“At the moment, access to health care in all parts of the country has become more difficult as the cost of life-saving drugs have gone beyond the reach of most Nigerians.

“The situation is worse for people suffering from serious conditions, some of which require life-long therapeutic management.

“Many people living with diabetes currently have their lives hanging in the balance as the condition is now more difficult than ever to control, now that the cost of drugs and monitoring devices are no longer affordable.

“Cases of parents not giving their children vital insulin at the right doses are now becoming rampant.

“For some people, they have been forced to stop taking their regular drugs and are at the risk of developing serious complications.

“Indeed, it is common knowledge that more Nigerians both in the rural and urban areas are developing diabetes complications as a result of their inability to control their condition,” the NGO said.

It said that many experts had warned that diabetes was the leading cause of non-traumatic lower extremities amputation, prolonged hospital in-patient stay and sometimes avoidable deaths.

DICOMAI said that poorly managed diabetes results in diabetes complications like diabetes foot ulcers, kidney failure, blindness, among others.

It said that the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimated that one in two persons with diabetes in the country was undiagnosed, warning that the current estimated number of cases could be double or even more.

“This is one health disaster Nigeria cannot afford to face, especially given our current socio-economic situation, alongside the brain drain being faced in the health sector,” the NGO said.

DICOMAI said that over 70 per cent of medicines used in the country are imported.

It added that pharmaceutical industry sources projected that the cost of the drugs could reduce by 40 per cent if the government waived import duties and other taxes for their importation.

The organisation also urged both federal and state governments to make diabetes management free to children and the elderly.

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