By Hassan Zaggi
The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), has mapped out a 10- year plan to take Nigeria out of medicines in insecurity.
The Director General of the Institute, Dr. Obi Adigwe, disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja, yesterday, lamenting that Nigeria’s medicines insecurity threat level remains extremely high.
He called on policy makers, wealthy, spirited Nigerians and organisations to prioritize funding NIPRD for it to come out with world-class research findings that will save the country from the embarrassment of the threats of medicines insecurity.
“The medicine security threat level in Nigeria is very high. This is because, from the time India banned the exportation of API to countries like Nigeria, till now nothing has changed. The only movement you see is NIPRD articulating an intellectual position that will enable us hit the ground running when the relevant resources are made available.
This is because we cannot get that paradigm shift without prioritization from key thought leaders, stakeholders and policy makers.
“You cannot achieve that paradigm shift without the needed funding. The threat level of medicine security in Nigeria remains extremely high,” he said.
Adigwe revealed that NIPRD has over 75 world-class professors and scientists who are ready to do their best for the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria.
“We have world-class capacity here at NIPRD. We are ready to work. I have not taken a leave even for one day since I was appointed two and half years ago and we are ready to work.
“My staff are ready to do their best for the country, but we must be supported with prioritization in the area of funding,” he stressed.
Speaking on a 10-year plan to ensure medicines security in Nigeria, Adigwe said: “The key things we are going to do to ensure medicines security in the next ten years include developing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) and stimulating manufacturing in-country; the work we are doing in Nano medicine which is the first in Africa; the work we are doing in terms of using artificial intelligence and machine learning which partly we used to predict that one of our product will have activity on Covid-19 months before the people in Thailand confirmed it. All these things are the first in Africa.”
Lamenting how far his Institute has gone in soliciting for funding support to get its COVID-19 product to the final stage but to no avail, Dr. Adigwe said: “Funding is one area, on this product, if we have not written support letters, we have, at least, written to 30 development partners and philanthropist organisations.
“We have written to all the foundations. The only organisations that has committed to provide some of the funding for this product to move forward is an organization in Burkina Faso.
“Regards funding, we are nowhere near where we are supposed to be as a country.
“In Nigeria, the data suggests that 0.04 of our GDP is channeled towards research and development. There is no developed country in the world that does not spend somewhere around 1 and 5 per cent of its GDP on research and development. We are nowhere near where we are supposed to be.”
He, however, applauded the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for beginning to support NIPRD.
“Since the coming of this administration, there has been some movement towards supporting research and development. CBN and some organisations have support research in phytomedicine. But its like a drop in the ocean. It should not be left for government alone.
“Nowhere in the world that research and development is left for government alone. Everyone that has the capacity should focus on funding NIPRD like the way other nations do,” he said.