By Asma’u Ahmad
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has advised the Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health to accelerate local production of Anti-Retroviral Drugs, to enable the country to suppress transmission of HIV/AIDS by 2030.
UNAIDS Country Director for Nigeria and UNAIDS Focal Point for ECOWAS, Dr. Bilali Camara, made the appeal in an interview with the News men in Abuja.
According to him, UNAIDS has discussed with some pharmaceutical companies and they are ready to go ahead with the production of anti-retroviral drugs as well as other HIV commodities in Nigeria.
He said: “The pharmaceutical companies have asked the government for patronage and given them the freedom to import the necessary ingredients for the production of the drugs free. They have also asked the government to ensure that the market is protected and that the government should utilize the drugs at low competitive rate.
“When the drugs are produced and sold to government, the companies want the government to ensure prompt payments as quickly as possible to sustain the production of the commodities.”
He said that UNAIDS would continue to push the ministry to ensure the accomplishment of this important goal.
“If Nigeria can produce the drugs, it will assist us to make a difference in the whole of West Africa and make drugs more affordable to the sub-region at a cheaper rate. There is viable market for the commodities within the region and some stakeholders in the region will tell you that there is stock out in some of the countries,” he added.
The country director further said that the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) has collaborating with Nigerian pharmaceutical companies to see how to provide better drugs security stock in the region
He said ECOWAS must also be responsible in ensuring the consumption of drugs produced within the sub-region.
Dr. Camara added that Africa imports 98 per cent of its anti-retroviral medicines and that two manufacturers dominated 71 per cent of the African market.
He said that the local production of the anti-retroviral drugs would also provide an incentive to build domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity as well as deliver economic dividends to the