#Kadinvest2016: Putting Up A Case For The Pharmaceutical Sector By Sada Malumfashi
With the completion of the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit tagged ‘KadInvest 2016’, the government of Kaduna State has demonstrated that Kaduna is indeed open for business. Assurances to revive moribund factories, and open up new partnerships to make it easier for business transactions to be carried out in the state were pushed forward in the summit.
Surprisingly, inconspicuous among the key highlights for development in Kaduna State however was the pharmaceutical sector. Nigeria has the biggest pharmaceutical manufacturing sector in West Africa and it will be another milestone to the Kaduna State investment promotion message with a wider out view if it reaches into the potentials in the pharmaceutical market by partnering pharmaceutical innovators and both local and international suppliers to make further gains in health outcomes.
Indeed for Kaduna to be Great Again health outcomes of citizens should be a topmost priority and availability of medications is a huge barrier towards improving health indices. Looking into investments partnership in the pharmaceutical sector will create value for patients and customers with improved availability of medications readily and reduced cost, which inadvertently will result in better health outcomes.
A government committed to providing accessible and efficient healthcare coverage to its citizens at reduced cost should look into the possibility of attracting investors and tapping into the budding pharmaceutical market which is worth US$ 300 billion a year, a figure expected to rise to US$400 billion within three years, portraying the immense importance of the pharmaceutical industry even on the world stage as evident with total revenues worldwide reaching nearly one trillion US dollars. The Pharmaceutical Market in Africa on its own is predicted to be worth between $40 billion to $65 billion by 2020. This is as markets in the developed world stagnate, making Africa a potential hotbed as over one-third of the world’s population lacks access to essential medicines, including HIV/AIDS-related medicines and of this group, over 50% live in the least developed countries in Africa and Asia.
A large number of pharmaceutical companies can support health development through public-private partnerships in northern Nigeria’s second largest commercial city with a potential in the sector to generate high quality and well-paid jobs that will power the economic output of Kaduna State, and empower its health indices, which is vital for competitiveness in the global market. A snapshot of how the pharmaceutical sector can help proliferate other businesses as well as make them grow towards contributing to a stronger economy.
With a developing research institute at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Kaduna State University and the already established faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, collaboration with pharmaceutical industries can provide patients access to potential new treatments as well as creating local jobs in the immediate communities.
As the government promises to add healthcare facilities, from primary health care centers to secondary tier hospitals, there would be an increase in capacity as well as needs for quality medications, currently confined to the pharmaceutical market in Lagos alone, or Kano in the north. Kaduna’s strategic position would make it distinct for opportunities. Presently, pharmaceutical companies are shying away from doing business in Kaduna, due to the choking nature of business presented by the distorted open drug market in the state, making it a free for all struggle, due to lack of flexibility and regulation.
These global pharmaceutical companies will need local partners to help navigate the murky market terrain and the government on its part needs to address the chaotic drug supply and distribution mechanism posing risk and challenges to pharmaceutical investment in the state.
With the plan of the government as elucidated by the chief executive to reduce medical tourism out of the country, it will be imperative that qualitative drugs are also readily available in the state. But with thousands of unregistered patent and proprietary medicine stores sprawled across the state, which are thought to sell over the counter products only, but evidently otherwise, there is need for them to be cracked down and stamped out or well regulated to reduce barriers, including the weak distribution systems, and inadequate number of registered community pharmacies.
Kaduna’s growing population will indeed provide an enormous market of opportunities for pharmaceutical products, and a potential reservoir of skills which if well utilized will respond to healthcare needs of the citizens, help in wealth creation, and improve general well being of the populace and hence in societal welfare.
In order to boost these developments of new medicines, collaborative endeavours between pharmaceutical companies and other key actors in the health-care system including academia, small and medium enterprises, patients, as well as regulatory authorities need to be implemented. These partnerships would represent an attractive means to address the multiple challenges of the healthcare sector, in this era of constrained resources.
If the coordination challenges can be properly managed, strategic partnerships in healthcare can improve the competitive advantage of pharmaceutical enterprises in the market and enhance public health outcomes.
As Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai remarked in his budget speech:
“Our programme is structured to ensure that poverty does not stifle a child’s ability to gain decent basic education or kill a pregnant mother during childbirth…We seek to?reduce the possibility that pregnancy becomes a multiple, sometimes fatal ordeal for father, mother and infant.”
This shows that health and well being of the residents of the State is accorded top priority by the present government with aim of enhancing provision of quality and affordable health services to the residents, hence a need to encourage the local manufacture of pharmaceuticals, ?capacity building, and making drugs readily available ?in primary and secondary health facilities for the meantime.
The pharmaceutical sector is a huge vehicle for job creation and hopefully next year, starting with ‘KadInvest 2017’ investments in the pharmaceutical sector will be among key highlights and priorities for the summit. The Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency – KADIPA as well as the state government should look into this key aspect of the economy towards improving health status of the citizens.
Sada Malumfashi is a Pharmacist, writer and freelance journalist living in Kaduna.