ADDRESS BY THE ACTING DIRECTOR-GENERAL, MRS. YETUNDE OLUREMI ONI AT THE FLAG-OFF OF THE NAFDAC SENSITIZATION WORKSHOP IN DAMATURU, YOBE STATE

Protocol

I am delighted to address you at the flag-off of NAFDAC sensitization campaign here in Damaturu, Yobe State, the Pride of the Sahel of the Nation. This is yet another milestone achievement in a series of planned state campaigns for the benefit of all stakeholders and Nigerians with regards to continued awareness education on the regulatory activities of NAFDAC.

One of the key strategies deployed by NAFDAC to achieve zero tolerance to substandard and falsified medical products, unwholesome food and spurious regulated products is sustained public enlightenment campaigns. We are gathered here today, therefore, to sensitise the general public on the public health implications of these substandard, falsified and unwholesome regulated products and the efforts of NAFDAC in tackling this ugly menace. I humbly seize this opportunity to thank the government and good people of Yobe State for responding in your numbers to witness the flag off of this sensitization campaign here in Damaturu.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was established by Decree 15 of 1993 now cited as Act Cap N1 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004. This Act empowers NAFDAC to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, chemicals/detergents, medical devices and packaged water (known as regulated products).

The essence of regulation and control is to protect public health by ensuring that only the right quality regulated products that are safe, efficacious and wholesome reach the market, and ultimately, the consuming public. Effective regulation assures the quality and safety of regulated products, attracts foreign investment, encourages export of locally produced regulated products and stimulates the growth of the industry.

Through our numerous activities, NAFDAC provides a well regulated and favourable environment for genuine operators in the regulated industries/sectors to explore their prospects and achieve their full potentials for development. NAFDAC ensures that the regulated industry complies with relevant quality and safety specifications and can favourably compete in the international market.

This is achieved through various processes which include:
•Product registration
•Inspections
•Laboratory evaluation
•Post-marketing surveillance etc.
 
Unfortunately, all the efforts of NAFDAC aimed at ensuring that only good quality, safe, efficacious and/or wholesome regulated products are made available to the public are being sabotaged by unscrupulous fakers and counterfeit products. The management of NAFDAC has constantly been fighting against this global menace.

The Agency cannot fight and win this battle alone as it is by no means an easy task. Based on mounting evidence, we are tackling head-on and addressing the problem and the expertise and sophistication of those that produce and market them.

Effective collaboration and cooperation from the good people of Yobe state are essential to building sustainable strategies against these problems. In view of this, we are requesting for a partnership to institutionalise proper coordination mechanisms that will involve all stakeholders with direct and indirect roles at combating counterfeiting of drugs and other NAFDAC regulated products in Yobe state.

Yobe state is blessed with the abundance of arable lands, herds and cash crops, a huge potential in the diversification project of the Federal Government. These cash crops particularly grains could be processed and packaged for export which can yield foreign exchange for Yobe state in particular and Nigeria in general.

However, there is the challenge of misapplication and misuse of pesticides and herbicides which have led to the rejection of these value-added agricultural produce in the international market. There is also the health risks associated with the misuse, such as cancer and damage to vital human internal organs when such products are consumed. Hence the need for sensitization and training of farmers on the appropriate and safe use of pesticides.

NAFDAC continues to educate farmers and herders and other handlers on the safe and responsible use of agrochemicals. The Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedure for Chemical Regulation and control have been reviewed to address emerging issues. Risk Assessment and field trials of fertiliser have been introduced for effective control and management of agrochemicals.

Periodically, the Agency receives complaints of drug abuse and misuse, illegal use of narcotics and psychotropic substances as well as spurious label claims, illegal adverts and hawking of herbal medicines by producers and marketers of these products in the State. NAFDAC will continue to frown at as well as resist these developments. We therefore, implore Yobe indigenes and residents to buy medicines from only licensed pharmacies and patent medicines shops.

One of the statutory responsibilities of the Agency is to collaborate with relevant organisations in order to eradicate drug abuse and misuse in Nigeria. Drug abuse stems from the aspiration to enhance mental, physical or social performance, often driven by the inordinate desire to excel and to get self-satisfaction from the euphoria, hallucination and delusion which are the effects derived from use. The commonly abused drugs include CNS stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, narcotic analgesics (Tramadol), anabolic steroids which is being misused as “Sha Ka Fa Se” otherwise called “Drink and Burst” and volatile substances.

The Agency has observed with dismay that the incidence of drug abuse is on the increase particularly amongst women and youths in the Northern region of the country. Hence it has become imperative for NAFDAC to put adequate measures in place to curb this ugly trend one of which is the sensitization activity of today which we plan to sustain to achieve our goal for a drug-free society and nation.
 
More recently, with the creation of the Veterinary Medicines and Allied Products Directorate, it has become imperative to educate the citizenry on the safe and responsible use of veterinary drugs which indirectly affects humans when consumed.

This sensitization will be of immense value to farmers involved in animal husbandry particularly for commercial purposes. NAFDAC is to ensure that the administration of veterinary medicinal product as prescribed by veterinarians is in line with the instructions of the manufacturer so as to meet the intended use for efficacy and safety as appropriate.

In the treatment of animals, strict compliance is required to the observance of withdrawal periods of veterinary drugs in line with Good Practice of Veterinary Medicine (GPVM) as prescribed by Codex Alimentarius so that animal food products will not pose a health risk to man when consumed.
Hence the choice of the theme of this NAFDAC sensitization workshop titled “Protecting Public Health through Proper Storage of Food, Rational Use of Controlled Medicine, Pesticides and Safe Handling of Chemicals” is apt and timely in the light of the aforementioned regulatory challenges in Yobe state.

Furthermore, the importance of safe drinking water in preventing waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea cannot be overemphasised. As the most populous black nation, Nigerians consume water worth billions of naira daily. As part of our regulatory responsibility to the Nigerian people, NAFDAC continues to provide guidance in the form of training, laboratory analysis, advisory inspections and consultative meetings with this sector to ensure safe water for her citizenry.

Through frequent and routine surveillance, workshops, and grass root sensitization activities, the illegal use of Potassium Bromate (a potential carcinogen) in Bread has been reduced to a minimal level. A recent regulatory requirement for all bakeries is to have the bromate-free logo on the labels of their bread.

In our efforts to safeguard the heath of the nation, NAFDAC has adopted a holistic, multifaceted strategy which transcends local and international barriers. These strategies include sustained public enlightenment campaigns, national and international collaborations, capacity building for members of staff, review of NAFDAC laws to make them stiffer and more stringent to serve the purpose of deterrence, use of sophisticated and cutting edge technologies such as Truscan, Minilab test kits and Mobile Authentication Services. These efforts have continued to yield the desired results.

I wish to seize this opportunity to implore the good people of Yobe state and indeed all Nigerians to continue to support NAFDAC in her fight against the proliferation of substandard and falsified medical products, unwholesome food and other substandard or spurious regulated products in Nigeria.

We appeal to you all to feel free to walk into any NAFDAC office nationwide to report any suspected case of any unethical practice bothering on NAFDAC regulated products. We assure you that all reported cases will not only be treated with utmost confidentiality but will equally be investigated to a logical conclusion. We should all regard ourselves as “change agents” working together to safeguard the health of the nation. This is service to humanity which Almighty Allah will reward in measures beyond our comprehension Ameen.

On behalf of the management and staff of NAFDAC, I welcome you all to this sensitization exercise as we strive towards safeguarding a healthy Nigeria for us and our future generations.

Thank you for your attention.

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