It is not news that one of the few well-deserved appointments by the previous government is that of the Director General of the National Agency for Food
and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Bortwev Orhii [picture above]. His near six years spent in the helm of affairs as the nation’s premier health guard is indeed not a misplaced decision or priority going by the various distinct and dynamic achievements recorded by the agency in its determination to improve healthcare delivery.
Through his instrumentality Dr. Orhii , an international technocrat, administrator, medical icon and legal luminary has necessitated the conferment of global status on local drug plants through World Health Organization (WHO) good manufacturing practice pre-qualification certification which has boosted self-reliance in production and competitive export
Apart from this internationalisation, the drug standardisation process has also led to an overhaul of the agency’s multi-million naira laboratory in Agulu in Anambra state, to render international standard services; as such our locally produced pharmaceutical products can today compete favorably with those of their counterparts abroad.
It not a secret that the agency has collaborated with the nation’s Bank Of Industry to initiate a multi-million naira Pharmaceutical development fund which will in turn avail our indigenous pharmaceutical industries with production boosting low interest loans. It also aims at ensuring the success of the recently launched Federal Government’s Save One Million Lives programme targeted towards achieving the United Nation’s global strategy to save multi-million lives by 2015. This has placed on the agency’s shoulders the onerous responsibility of directing about (50) developed and developing countries worldwide on the modalities of enhancing safety and quality for life-saving commodities approved for the programme.
In the quest for sanity in the distribution and sale of drugs came the introduction of a monitored professionalised marketing strategy through the localisation of regional Mega Drug Distribution Centers (MDDCs) as well as State Drug Distribution Centers(SDDCs)coupled with its numerous landmark achievements in this regard has made it a cynosure of all eyes both locally and internationally .
As a legal luminary himself, the Chief Executive has not been found wanting in this regard as on the legal terrain, NAFDAC has recorded notable achievements through successfully securing conviction of many counterfeiters of the agency’s regulated products thereby achieving a feat which indisputably and remarkably remains outstanding being the first of its kind in the history of the agency’s existence.
Furthermore, the agency’s enabling Act tagged: Decree No 15 of 1993 as amended to ACT Cap N1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, which empowers it to control and regulate the use of Food, Drugs, Cosmetics, Medical devices and Packaged Water including all drinks generally regarded as regulated products of the agency, is currently being compelled to undergo an overhaul in an attempt to further empower it for more patriotic services.
On food safety, sanitisation and regulation, the agency has introduced the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan for Food safety in Nigeria, the convening of intellectual interactions between NAFDAC and Millennium Development Agencies (MDAs), professional and tertiary institutions which culminated in the inauguration of a National Food Safety Committee which has become a focal point of food safety in Nigeria.
Fast food providing industries nationwide have become standardised as they are being intensely monitored and highly supervised thereby compelling them to comply with good hygienic practices so as to forestall outbreak of food borne diseases or ailments. This is in the same vein as bakeries are strictly supervised nationwide by dynamic and strategically seasoned NAFDAC operatives to prevent bakers from using the much detested deadly flour/dough enhancer Potassium Bromate which is known for its cancer causing ability.
Active and very vibrant enforcement operations aimed at arresting erring operators have been maximally sustained leading to closure of fast food industries and quick service restaurants who fail to comply with the agency’s stipulated good hygienic practices.
Apart from making a huge success of its Vitamin A food fortification programme, as well as maximally promoting food security while imploring stakeholders in the food sector to adopt high quality cassava flour in the production of bread and other bakery products, it has equally recorded victory in the Salt iodisation programme aimed towards eliminating iodine deficiency disorders in the entire Nigeria Federation. To foster safe and ideal application of Agro-Chemicals, befitting guidelines and standard operating procedures have been introduced for effective regulation and control of chemicals. To ensure its compliance with modern practices, risk assessment and field trials for Fertiliser have been imbibed by the agency as part of measures to enhance effective and efficient control cum management of Agro-Chemicals nationwide.
There is no doubt that modern trend in water provision and consumption has brought about proliferation of water packaging plants nationwide which has subsequently placed on the agency the onus of guaranteeing via dynamic and efficient regulation availability of safe drinking water thereby preventing the outbreak of various water borne diseases like: Cholera, Typhoid, Diarrhea, etc. In this regard, numerous packaged water products have been professionally analysed, tested and certified for consumption by NAFDAC such that currently about 10,000 water products have so far been registered by the agency.
Aside its recently introduced E-Clearance Portal which makes possible on-line clearance of goods at the nation’s ports, the agency has established web presence where information on activities of the agency could be easily accessed. On the other hand, a corporate portal which allows in-house information sharing as well as a laboratory information management system to support quality laboratory procedure and data processes has been put in place. There is also its automated product administration and monitoring solution which is a web portal that is internet enabled to provide electronic platform for the management of the registration process/E-registration and a data base to capture information on the agency’s regulated products.
Obviously, counterfeiting maximally retards health boosting efforts if allowed unabated. This explains why the Dr Orhii led NAFDAC management team have held on tightly to the horns of the proverbial bull in this regard. The agency took the entire world by surprise when it co-opted cutting edge technologies into combating pharmaceutical products counterfeiting, a heroic, historic and dynamic attempt which has earned for it, victory and global recognition as well as distinct international reputation for Nigeria. This comprise: Truscan technology, Black Eye and Radio Frequency Identification Systems and the Mobile Authentication Service while also engaging the global pharma-health fund mini-lab test kits.
Onmeje is a member of the Nigerians in Diaspora Monitoring Group.