China has pledged to monitor the flow of fake or adulterated drugs into Nigeria. Nigerian authorities say the agreement will lead to more quality medicines, especially for children, in a country the World Health Organization says has more fake drugs on hospital shelves than any other country on the continent.
Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, daughter of former President Olusegu Obasanjo , chairs the Senate Committee on Health. She just returned from China as head of the delegation that negotiated the deal.
“Basically, “ she said, “what has been found is that the majority of the drugs imported into Nigeria come mainly from two counties – India and China. The majority of the adulterated and fake drugs also comes from these two sources. We believe the authorities in these two countries are interested in making sure the credibility of pharmaceutical production in their countries is not tarnished.”
Senator Obasanjo says her country is also dealing with the manufacture of some traditional medicines that have not been tested or approved by health authorities.
“It’s a problem that has been around for a while. What we know is that what people call traditional medicine -- those which have not gone through any routine check at all, -- need to be checked. People create these medicines and just try to trick people, although we do acknowledge that there are good traditional medicines that are effective and have been used for generations.”
Senator Obasanjo says the plan relies on a two-pronged approach.
“One of the first things they told us is that we have to do better here. We agreed we have to do better so the drugs don’t get in, but they also have their reputation at stake because when we arrest fake drugs importers, we announced they came from China. It [affects] China’s reputation.”