Nigeria: Orhii - Fighting Drug Counterfeiting Getting Dangerous
Fighting adulteration of drugs is getting more dangerous and difficult with the entry of former hard drug dealers into the fake medicine business but NAFDAC's Director-general, Dr. Paul Orhii, tells journalists how he is tackling this and other challenges.
Aow my administration is different...
"When I came to the agency in January 2009, first and foremost, I said I would build on what I found on ground and next I said I'd like to take it to the next level, to bring international standards to bear so that NAFDAC will be comparable to international food and drug regulatory agencies anywhere in the world like the US, Canada and Britain.
First and foremost, even the desire to build on what I found on the ground is unusual in Nigeria history. Often, you run down your predecessor and even begin to demolish some of the structures you met on ground, even sack some of the staff hired by your predecessor and hire new staff to start again, which I think has not been helpful to us. There are no institutions. Whatever happens depends on personalities and once the person leaves, everything is destroyed and we start all over again. So, building on what I met on ground was a good strategy and I think that's the way agencies should be run, institutions, not personalities.
Using public enlightenment ...
We built on the strengths I met, like the public enlightenment. We tried to fine-tune them and expand them. For example, we made our public enlightenment more focused and more educational. We have radio and television programmes. We concentrated on our drug safety clubs in secondary schools. Now, we have worked with the Ministry of Education to build NAFDAC activities into secondary school curricula. So, these are things that we expanded. On infrastructure, the laboratories that I found on ground, I decided to upgrade them, to refurbish some of them that were already decaying. For example, Agulu laboratory that my predecessor started, which is uncompleted, we completed it during my administration. In 2010, the president was there to commission it himself. We upgraded the Oshodi laboratory to international standard and is undergoing WHO accreditation. We also refurbished and upgraded the Yaba laboratory to international standard. Right now it is undergoing international certification. The Kaduna laboratory that has been burnt down since 2004, we rebuilt it and is now of international standard and we are about to commission it. We fought one of the greatest fights against fake and adulterated drugs and consolidated that fight. If you remember, counterfeit drugs were first detected in 1968. By 2001, more than 40 per cent of the drugs in the country were counterfeit or substandard. Due to the effort of my predecessor, by 2005, counterfeit drugs were reduced to 16.7 per cent. So, I have to build on that.