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NAFDAC warns customs agents against complicity in illegal importation of syringes

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned against importation of syringes from foreign countries, saying the act may kill local pharmaceutical industries.
This is contained in a statement signed by NAFDAC Director-General, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Sunday .
Adeyeye admonished members of the new executive of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) who were on a courtesy visit to her office in Lagos to think more of the interest of the country above personal as a clearing agents in the nation’s ports.
She enjoined the  agents to join forces with the NAFDAC to end the rejection of Nigerian food exported to EU, USA and other western countries.
She also narrated how she marveled at the stupendous investments committed to local production of Syringes in Nigeria by a local pharmaceutical company during a recent facility tour.
The NAFDAC boss said that the standard of the facilities she met on ground was comparable to those found in the U.S. or any country in Europe.
She said after the facility tour and being led into the warehouse, she was highly disturbed at the sight of huge unsold products.
She said that over 1.5 billion units of the product were lying untouched in the warehouse due to low sales, exacerbated by the influx of imported syringes into the country, in spite of the high import duty slammed on the product to protect the local market.
She also  noted with regrets that intelligence reports reaching her indicated that some compromises were being made at the port of entry in allowing illegal importation of unregistered containers of syringes into the country.
The NAFDAC D-G revealed that a publication by the United States Food and Drug Agency (USFDA) stated that some syringes that came from Southeast Asia were of bad quality
Adeyeye wondered that those products didn’t fly by night into warehouses in Nigeria, but through individuals.
The NAFDAC boss expressed sympathy for manufacturers, stating that she was pained by the challenges of not making sales, especially after investing a significant amount of money.
Adeyeye explained the important role of  licensed customs agents as pivotal in facilitating the legal and safe import and export of goods, ensuring compliance with required standards.
She welcomed the familiarisation visit, highlighting its objective in establishing effective collaboration and cooperation.
She said the visit would enhance the positioning and promotion of trade in regulated products, both at the domestic and in the international market.
She also noted that the visit and discussion were important, considering the volume of food and agricultural commodities from Nigeria currently facing challenges of rejection at entry points in some foreign countries.
‘’Nigeria has lost billions of naira in trade that could have benefitted our people.
“About 70 per cent of our exports are rejected, food products especially; all these rejected products did not go through NAFDAC regulatory assessment, it disgraces us as a country.
She said further that it had become a great issue of concern the number of substandard products coming into the country.
“That is why I attach importance to this association because the goods that are either imported or exported, often play a crucial role in determining the strength of our economy.
In the area of exports, she said the international market was competitive in nature.
According to her, only products of high quality with relevant certifications and quality packaging was acceptable to the global trade.
She noted with dismay that the problem of quality, standard, certification and appropriate packaging for made-in-Nigeria products destined for export had been an issue in the international market.
She  however, emphasized the need to address the issue of rejections, adding that some exporters obtained the wrong documentation, especially fake lab results, instead of bringing their products to NAFDAC’s ISO 17025:2015 accredited labs for analysis.
According to her, NAFDAC is the competent authority in Nigeria charged with the responsibility to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and consumption of drugs, food and other regulated products.
’”NAFDAC, having attained the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems that covers all her regulatory processes and procedures and certified WHO GBT maturity level 3, places great premium on deepening use of science in its regulatory processes and self-developments.
’’The D-G however pointed out that the agency believed in collaborative efforts with both local and international organizations to complement her robust regulatory policies geared in protecting consumers and promoting public health.
She also said that the agency was committed to ensuring that only regulated products and the systems for the production were safe for public consumption.
According to her, the agency has analysed the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alert from the EU and observed that most rejected products by the EU having failed the relevant tests, did not have the appropriate documentation/certifications.
She said that such situation really called for proper collaboration and synergy among all stakeholders to curb the negative behaviour of some of those exporters and ensure only quality and certified products were exported.
Adeyeye told the guests that as licensed custom agents, they were responsible to let their members know the importance of assessment and accompanying shipping documents, adding that goods were cleared through customs with all necessary regulations.
 The National President of ANLCA, Mr Emenike Nwokochi, who spoke in the same vein, lamented that it was shameful to buy yam abroad and be told that it was from Ghana when Nigeria was the highest producer of the product.
He  said that Nigerians could not do anything to help the Naira even when it continued to fall.
He, however, pledged his association’s resolve to work in collaboration with NAFDAC to achieve the common goal of developing the nation’s economy.

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WHO to begin vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus May 27 in Kogi

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The World Health Organisation (WHO), says it plans to commence vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) on May 27 in Kogi.

The state’s Team Lead of WHO, Dr Muktar Toyosi, said this when he led his team on an advocacy visit to the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Wednesday in Lokoja.

Toyosi said that the vaccination was meant for girl child of between the age nine and 14.

He said the ongoing sensitisation was to keep the people informed, and educate them on the vaccination of their children to protect them against cervical cancer in future.

”Kogi falls within the second phase of the programme. We are soliciting for the cooperation of the media in educating the people of the state on the HPV vaccination.

“There need for girls child across the state to take the vaccination to safeguard their future.

“Although the vaccine was initially scarce and difficult to get, the good news now is that it has been made available by the government,” Toyosi said.

Also speaking, the State Technical Assistant for WHO, Dr Ahmed Attah, said that the HPV mostly affect women, adding that the vaccination remained a preventive measure against the disease.

Attah, a former state Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and a former Chief Medical Director (CMD), Kogi Specialist Hospital (KSSH) Lokoja, urged parents and guardians to avail their children of the vaccination to justify government’s investment.

In his response, the Kogi NUJ Chairman, Mr Seidu Ademu, described the health sector as very critical, stressing that the vaccination was a right step in the right direction.

Ademu promised a robust partnership with WHO to enable the team to achieve its set goals.
He stressed the need to inform, educate and sensitise the general public on the need to embrace the vaccine by ensuring that girls within the age range were vaccinated.

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NCDs will be leading cause of mortality in Africa by 2030 – WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) will become the leading cause of mortality in Africa by 2030 if urgent measures are not executed by member states.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, joining virtually, made the assertion on Tuesday at the opening of the first International Conference on PEN-Plus in Africa (ICPPA 2024) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The ICPPA 2024, holding from April 23 to April 25, is aimed at addressing severe NCDs in Africa.

It is being hosted by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Moeti urged member states to embrace strategies that would help to address the issue.

“We are faced with non-communicable diseases and data from low and middle income countries show that 26 per cent of total health spending was due to NCDs, second only to infectious and parasitic diseases.

“Meaning it is urgent to give these often overlooked diseases priority attention as Africa is severely affected and more than in any other place in the world.

“The surge in the burden of NCDs on our continent over the past two decades, is driven by increasing incidences of risk factors, such as unhealthy diets, reduced physical activity, obesity, and air pollution.

“NCDs are set to overtake communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases combined as a leading cause of mortality in Africa by 2030.

“And here, the NCDs are called silent epidemics. Unfortunately, this rapid devolution, with a higher mortality rate has not been recognised in the region, because we’re not investing adequately in detecting and lowering the burden of these diseases,” Moeti said.

Moeti noted that severe NCDs like type one diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, and sickle cell disease more frequently affect children and young adults in the majority of Africans population.

She advised that Africa must show increased commitment in addressing NCDs with adequate and sustained resources.

She also said there was the need to strengthen accountability and assess the impact of interventions by enhancing surveillance and monitoring.

According to Moeti, this can be achieved using reliable and timely data at national and sub national levels to drive policy and action as we move forward.

Ms Elke Wisch, UNICEF Representative to Republic of Tanzania, said that collaboration was at the heart of collective response to tackling NCDs.

“Today’s gathering underscores the urgency and importance of addressing NCDs comprehensively and collaboratively.

“The WHO package of essential non communicable  interventions for PEN, for primary healthcare and low resources settings, and the recently launched regional strategy on PEN-Plus provides a strategic framework  for tackling NCDs at their roots,” she said.

Also speaking, Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Tanzania, said that non communicable diseases NCDs, have become a formidable threat to the health and wellbeing of “our people.”

She urged for collective efforts to address these threats.

“They are silently affecting the lives of our citizens, our communities, undermining the progress we strive to achieve as a nation.

“The impact of these diseases extends beyond individual suffering.

“It affects our communities, our economy, and ultimately the future of our nations in our continent.

“Yet, in the face of these challenges, we are not discouraged together. We have chosen to confront these non-communicable diseases.’’

She urged for lifestyle change as positive way to combatting the negative outcomes of NCDs.

James Reid, Programme Officer for the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) Programme, said he was happy at the level of interest and momentum in engagements to address NCDs, especially Type 2 diabetes.

He, however, identified finance as one of the biggest challenge and hindrance. He said that while political leaders and stakeholders identify the challenges that NCDs pose, the strategies to prevent them, especially NCD care, were limited.

“Leadership for driving of PEN-Plus is very important to make sure that ministry of health leaders and all others involved, really understand how to change the dynamics as well as adopt solutions to suit specific localities,” she said.

WHO’s PEN-Plus (Package of Essential NCD-Plus), is a regional integrated care delivery strategy to address severe non-communicable diseases at first-level referral health facilities.

At the 2022 WHO Regional Committee Meeting for the African Region, the 47 Member States of the AFRO region voted to adopt the PEN-Plus strategy.

It is focused on alleviating the burden among the poorest children and young adults. This is by increasing the accessibility and quality of chronic care services for severe NCDs including Type 1 diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, and sickle cell disease.

 ICPPA 2024 provides opportunity to shore up international support for scaling up PEN-Plus in the African Region. Also, the conference serves as a platform to raise awareness of severe NCDs, share lessons from countries implementing PEN-Plus and identify opportunities to strengthen NCD management.

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UNICEF emphasises importance of polio vaccination to caregivers

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has encouraged caregivers in Katsina, Kano and Jigawa States to present their eligible children for the next round of polio vaccination exercise.

Mr Michael Banda, the Officer-in-charge of UNICEF Kano Field Office, made the call in Kano at a media dialogue on the polio campaign on Friday.

The media dialogue was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Kano State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, with participants from the above-mentioned states.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four-day polio vaccination exercise is scheduled to commence on April 20, across the three states.

According to the UNICEF Officer-in-charge of the Kano field office, the importance of the exercise cannot be overemphasised.

“As the data show, in Kano, Jigawa and Katsina, we have over 556,750 children who have not received one single dose of vaccination they should have received.

“These are referred to as zero-dose children. Such children inexorably are vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, including poliomyelitis.

“This is unacceptable and must be tackled frontally. Not only is polio vaccination crucial, but all routine vaccinations are also critical to children’s survival.

“We must all work together to strengthen routine immunisation services and ensure that all children under five receive all vaccines, including the polio vaccine,” Banda said.

He added that, if all children got vaccinated and receive the vaccines they needed to receive, they would no longer be at risk of contracting polio, with attendant debilitating consequences.

He said that, rather they would have received the immunity which would protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Banda emphasised that immunisation had been proven to be the most cost-effective protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Let’s all work together, government, development partners, religious and traditional leaders, communities, NGOs, CSOs and the media, to ensure that every Nigerian child under five is vaccinated.

“This will protect them from not just polio, but all other vaccine-preventable diseases,” he appealed.

According to the UNICEF official, managing misinformation and vaccine hesitancy for Polio and overall vaccination is very crucial in Nigeria to stop the outbreak.

He stressed that the role of the media, including social media, was important in this aspect.

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