The Senate on Tuesday urged the federal government to implement 75 percent import duties on syringes and needles as soon as possible.
Furthermore, the senate also urged the government to take tough measures to punish defaulters by ensuring that the Nigerian Customs Service enforces the policy fully.
The Senate passed the resolution after the Joint Committee on Health, Trade and Investment, and Customs, Excise, and Tariffs approved a report.
The report discusses the need to regulate the manufacture, importation, and use of syringes and needles in order to protect Nigerians’ safety and the economy, as well as to encourage local manufacturers and provide job opportunities.
Oloriegbe Ibrahim, the Committee’s Chairman, presented the report. According to Ibrahim, the committee discovered that the majority of imported syringes and needles are substandard, unsterile, used, and rewashed syringes from the Asian continent, based on oral statements and memorandum gathered from stakeholders.
He stated that this was endangering Nigerians’ lives, health, and safety. He mentioned that despite several Federal Government policies, including the imposition of 75% import duties on imported syringes and needles to discourage importation, the NCS has been unable to effectively enforce the policy.
He also said that as a result, cheap, substandard, and unsterile syringes and needles were being imported in large quantities.
He noted that the importation of syringes and needles was driving local manufacturers out of business and forcing them to lay off workers.
According to him, the Federal Ministry of Health does not have a standard policy on syringe and needle procurement and use by government-owned hospitals and agencies. As a result, he claims, government-run hospitals and medical centres have been known to procure and use substandard syringes and needles.
He also mentioned that the World Health Organization’s requirement that manufacturers register to pre-qualify for certification is a challenge, noting that certification costs about 1.5 billion dollars.
“This has been an impediment to local manufacturers attaining this status and preventing them from being patronised by organisations using donor funds,” he said.
In adopting the report, the Senate also urged the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment to complete the process of the Federal Executive Council’s approval of the sector’s Backward Integration Policy (BIP) and begin implementing the policy in August.
The Senate also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to develop a policy on syringe and needle procurement and use by government hospitals and offices by July 1. It also stated that, in order to strengthen local manufacturing, all federal government-owned hospitals should begin using locally manufactured syringes and needles within six weeks.
Manufacturers of syringes and needles, on the other hand, are encouraged to use the CBN’s Special Intervention Fund for the Health Sector to improve and expand their capabilities.