Medical experts seek ways of getting quality, accessible drugs in Nigeria

By Gloria Essien and Iquo Williams


Experts in drug manufacturing are collaborating with the National Health Insurance Scheme to device ways of making drugs affordable and accessible in Nigeria.


The experts at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja, underscored the need for new approach towards confronting the challenges of drugs accessibility and quality assurance.


The Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Mohammed Sambo, emphasized on the importance of restoration of value system in the country’s health sector.


He also said that the meeting had the sole aim of bringing to the fore, the problems related to drugs which affect NHIS enrollees in the process of accessing health care, especially at the facilities.


“As you may all be aware, one of the major policy thrusts of Mr. President’s Next Level Agenda for the Health Sector is the implementation of National Health Insurance Scheme in Nigeria to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This cannot be actualized without the engagement and partnership with the Private Sector, especially Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Companies”, Prof. Sambo said.


He said that it was imperative to bring all the stakeholders that are involved in the manufacturing and supply of the drugs to various health care facilities together, to know their challenges and seek solutions.


“This is because drug administration for the treatment of ailments is central to the entire essence of health insurance. This is so because without the drugs, which must also be affordable, health insurance will mean nothing to the enrollees,” Prof Sambo said.


He noted that there have been calls for review of the extant NHIS professional service charges and NHIS drug price from stakeholders because of inflation that has rendered some of the prices on the current list unrealistic in the market which is what informed the convocation of this Stakeholders engagement:


“The Scheme has completed the review of both professional service charge and NHIS drug list, new drugs and products have been introduced in the list. The NHIS Operational Guidelines recommends the use of generic drugs. Unfortunately, there has been outcry amongst some enrollees that generic drugs are substandard. Our response to them, has always been NHIS uses what is called essential drug list derived from the Federal Ministry of Health and the WHO. It is an International document which is appropriated by every country and modified to suit its needs”, the ES explained.


Speaking at the meeting the Nigerian minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said that government is aware that one of the most frequent areas of conflict between enrollees and their providers under NHIS is the quality and availability of prescribed drugs.


“It is my hope that this matter will enjoy the focus of this meeting”, Ehanire said.


He urged the meeting, to develop modalities that will help Nigeria to expand access to cancer drugs in the society as the government is worried by the alarming spread of cancer.

The theme of this meeting, “Making Quality Drugs Accessible and Affordable for the Attainment of Universal Health Coverage” is said to be one that is very timely and very critical to Nigeria as a nation.

Bilkisu Pai