Until Nigerians realise why the fight to end drug counterfeiting by NAFDAC needs total support of all, there may never be a total defeat of this menace, says new Director General (DG), Professor Christiana Adeyeye.
Adeyeye was the guest speaker during the annual 8th Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) Symposium held in Lagos.
The DG who was represented by a deputy director, Juliana Abolaji Abayomi noted that the magnitude of counterfeiting were significant and required strong as well as sustained action from the government, industry and consumers to ensure zero tolerance to fake drugs in the country.
She pointed out that the challenge facing the agency was mostly in the area of manpower as it has not the number of staff required to do a 24hour Surveillance of the nation, hence would need the support and cooperation of everyone to unearth the nefarious activities of fakers, “mostly carried out under the covers of the night”.
She pleaded with Nigerians to be the needed whistle blowers for the agency saying, “blow the whistle because most of these illegal production of drugs are done in the night. We will ensure utmost confidentiality.
”NAFDAC will neither relent nor waver in the fight until the battle is won” Adeyeye promised in her presentation titled: The menace of fake and counterfeit drugs: The Role of Regulatory Bodies.
In his presentation, former Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and public health physician, Professor Akin Osibogun described the non-existence of legal instruments in the coordination of emergency preparedness in the country as a big minus to prevention and response to disease outbreaks.
Delivering the keynote message titled: Emergency Response to Disease Outbreaks: Way Forward in Nigeria, Osibogun noted that three years after the outbreak and control of the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria, there is yet to be a national plan of action to respond to another outbreak.
Said he: “In 2014, the Federal Government promised to establish six functional laboratories but nothing of such is yet to be set up.
”Yes, the government has done well with the establishment of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) but there is yet to be a law in place to back up that centre and strengthen its operations.
”Also, we do not have a national plan of action yet so we can be well prepared for any form of disease outbreak”,said Osibogun.
The Public Health Physician also noted, “Political commitment is highly required to make adequate funds available to provide needed infrastructure such as laboratories for prompt diagnosis, researches, treatment centres and medical equipment.
”There should be constant training and retraining of medical personnel for emergency preparedness .
“There must be strong collaboration between the Federal and State governments and other health agencies to how to contain outbreaks.
“’So, as a nation we need to anticipate epidemics and be well prepared through surveillance system, investigation control measures, implementation of prevention measures as well as continuous monitoring, ” he said.
Recalling some of the challenging moments in reporting disease outbreaks as a Senior Health Editor, Sam Eferaro blamed insufficient collaboration between reporters and health authorities as reason for wrong information.
According to Eferaro, health authorities must learn to build confidence in the reporters by giving up to date and accurate information appropriately to the understanding of Health reporters whose responsibility include passing same knowledge to members of the public for positive response and cooperation.
Eferaro urged members of HEWAN to continue to seek new and innovative ideas and methods to enhance their skills in health reporting which he said is specialised and time consuming “to be able to perform effectively in a complex and dynamic medicalcare world”