By Ndidi CHUKWU
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured pharmaceutical companies in the country of government readiness to support them produce essential drugs locally, instead of relying on importation.
The President spoke while receiving a team constituted by the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library to develop an agenda for the health sector in the country.
The team was led by Professor Olu Akinkugbe during the visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari recalled that the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which he headed in the 1990s, had developed what it called “institutional strengthening,” in which PTF supported pharmaceutical companies with resources to encourage local production of drugs.
“We can revisit the experience. We can strengthen pharmaceutical companies to produce essential drugs needed in the country locally. We can then be sure of the quality of such medications,” the President said.
On privatization of healthcare institutions as canvassed in some quarters, President Buhari stressed the need to be careful and take a look at the state of development of the country before considering the option.
“Privatization aims at maximum profit. It then excludes the poor and the vulnerable from accessing healthcare. But we have to look after the poor,” he said.
The Olu Akinkugbe-led team had earlier given insights into its agenda for the health sector to include proposals on healthcare financing, developing health intelligence/observatory to preempt epidemics, simultaneous focus on primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, preventing labour unrests in the health sector, facilitating access to essential drugs through local production and the drug distribution system among others.
Professor Akinkugbe commended President Muhammadu Buhari for keeping faith with the change doctrine in the country, adding that the current buffeting economic storms were global, and not peculiar to Nigeria.