“Hospital equipment suffers from a setback”

By Henri Uché

Like Nigeria and the rest of the world are still grappling with the new variant of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital equipment, facilities and other resources are essential for the survival of the health sector, but, in Nigeria, a challenge major problem faced by operators in this sector has inadequate or dilapidated equipment, installations and machinery. This was the view of the Hospital Equipment and Medical Device Distributors Association of Nigeria (HEMDDAN).

At its 2021 Annual General Meeting in Lagos recently, the Association’s National Chairman, Dr. Ifeanyi Nwankwo, lamented the setbacks suffered by the group due to the activities of Chinese businessmen in the equipment sub-sector. hospital and medical device manufacturers, who make double profits in Nigeria by selling the same products here, which they (the Chinese) had previously sold to Nigerian importers in China.

The group called on the Federal Government to urgently rescue the health sub-sector by controlling the exploitation it is suffering from, especially at this critical time when Nigeria needs help as the pandemic still rages.

“We go to China and buy hospital equipment, but how can they sell us in their country and come back here and sell to Nigerians? And you know what, Nigerians would always date the white man. So we’re competing with our manufacturers here, and that tells us,

“What they’re doing to us here can’t happen in their country, the kind of freedom they enjoy here is becoming unseemly. So we need the National Assembly to come up with a policy to control Chinese manufacturing companies operating here, with the aim of protecting local companies to create jobs. Foreigners who want to do business here must follow due process.

Nwankwo urged the federal government to address the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate, the cost of which was increased in March by NAFDAC from 250,000 Naira to $11,800 (or its equivalent in Naira), saying “This increase is suffocating Business.”

“Nigeria’s economic and political leaders should strive to improve the lot of Nigerians, not make it worse. The economy is doing very badly. What is essential now is not to drive up the cost of doing business; it would trickle down to Nigerians,” he said.

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Similarly, the association’s vice president, Romanus Okafor, lamented what he called “unjustified treatment” meted out to them by NAFDAC and SON. According to him, the cost of chemical registration and licensing, as well as the cost of registering medical devices and pharmaceuticals, has always been increasing from one NAFDAC administration to another.

“NAFDAC said that it is the manufacturing companies that would pay the new GMP cost, but those companies don’t pay and even when they do, they would factor it into the total cost and, in the end, consumers end users and users bear the brunt.

He condemned SON’s foray to regulate certain medical devices, which are already regulated by NAFDAC, saying, “They forced us to do SON Cap, SON PC, and product certification and such. The functions of SON and NAFDAC collide, and that doesn’t bode well. We urge the federal government to streamline these functions.

“For the Nigeria Customs Service, unnecessary delays have become the order of the day. It was stipulated in the customs regulations that the containers had to be cleared from the ports within 72 hours, unless the products were unacceptable. But what we see today are undue delays just to see how to extort money from us, even when we have completed all the necessary requirements and formalities. They’re still looking for an offense to nail one.

“Today, a specified time of 72 hours can take you 10 days or more to clear goods from ports, in doing so we pay demurrage and detention charges. will suffer, because hospital equipment and medical devices are not luxury goods but intended to save lives.

“NAFDAC should scrap the heinous GMP fees and focus on protecting the health of Nigerians as outlined in the law that establishes it. They are not a revenue generating agency. It is the responsibility of the government to meet expectations,” he said.

Lillian L. Pena