We welcome with utmost delight and satisfaction the order by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for a blanket waiver on medical supplies and expedited clearing of all imported health care equipment, medical and pharmaceutical supplies at the ports.
The PSN had in her earlier press release, to appreciate the CBN on the 100 Billion intervention funds to the Pharmaceutical industries for growth stimulation, appealed to the President for import duty waiver for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and speedy clearing of pharmaceuticals from the nation’s ports as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
This action indicates that our President is listening to good counsel that will strengthen our healthcare system and guarantee our victory as a nation over this scourge.
However, we request that the waiver be extended to all essential drugs and not only those related to COVID-19 specifically, for many reasons.
Firstly, there is no established treatment protocol the world over for the novel coronavirus so clinicians have employed combinations of different drug regimen to treat the manifested symptoms.
Secondly, most of these repurposed medications are already in use by other patients leading to pressure on the supply chain thereby instigating price increase.
Thirdly, Nigerians who are on lockdown have reduced disposable income to buy medicines. Government is giving food palliative but no medicine palliative. Removing duties and levies on all essential medicines will be one way to provide medical palliative for the Nigerian poor.
Finally, the most vulnerable for COVID-19 infection, the aged population, already have some underlying chronic diseases and are on essential medicines like antidiabetics, antihypertensives and anticancer medications.
With the blow of the COVID-19 on the world’s economy, the people will find it difficult to maintain optimal health if the entire cost of medication is unleashed on them.
Once again, we commend Mr. President and his team, for these timely interventions and implore on him to ensure strict implementation of the order. We will not hesitate to point the way to other low hanging fruits towards the realisation of world best practises in pharmaceutical care.
Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, OFR, MON, NPOM, FPSN
President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.