NIPRD DG, Dr. Obi Adigwe says NIPRD is open to Pan-African collaborations

The Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe says the Institute remains committed to ensuring that African pharmaceutical products compete effectively with products from Asia, Europe and America.

Dr. Obi stated this in Abuja during a collaborative and advocacy visit by the Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network, (AHBN) to NIPRD’s headquarters.

He noted that following support from government, the Institute has embarked on aggressive training of members of staff and to build their capacities, as well as equipping laboratories to world class standards.

Recall that at the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic there was an inflow of financial support both locally and from international organizations to Nigeria’s health sector to help strengthen capacity to respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The Federal Government of Nigeria had budgeted and released 500 billion naira to various sectors of the economy including the health care sector which was considered the worst hit by the pandemic.

NIPRD is one of such health institutions that received this support, and a visit to its facility located at Idu area of the Federal Capital Territory reveals a drastic change from its former look, as the entire building has gotten a facelift while several equipment have been purchased or donated by partners to strengthen the medical and plant research and traditional medicine research (MPR&TC) laboratories, medicinal chemistry and quality control (MCQC) laboratories, pharmacology and toxicology (P&T) laboratories, pharmaceutical technology and raw materials development laboratories, DNA Sequencing among others.

The DG Dr. Obi Adigwe stated that his team at NIPRD is open to pan-African collaborative efforts that will yield products that can withstand competition anywhere in the world.

He listed several contributions and innovations by the Institute which were very helpful in the fight against COVID-19 transmission and management of the disease, both locally and internationally.

While underscoring the role of funding in the actualization of this dream, Obi who listed some grants NIPRD recently received from partners, appealed to AHBN to use its vast partnership to further strengthen grant opportunities for the Institute.

“Anyone who has been for the health sector in the last three years, will know that we here at NIPRD are amongst the most collaborative agencies of our kind and we always prioritise partnerships especially with like-minded organisations. That is organisations who focus on building partnerships within Africa so that we can build the capacity to expedite the harnessing of our resources to solve our peoples problems. And I am very happy that AHBN based, on preliminary analysis done by my office, falls squarely within such oranisations.

Read Also: NIPRD DG Give Reasons why Nigeria Should be Self Sustaining in Medicines and Vaccines

“You may also be pleased to know that AHBN is in good company because in the past three years, we have partnered with other agencies of your type and we have moved the partnerships from paper proposals to a situation where we now have tangible products and grants to justify the partnership.

“It is on record that we are the first of our kind to secure funding from Afreximbank of a better part of 1million dollars for the setup of the API concept production lab and training facility. That particular facility once the grant gets to maturity level will be used to begin to produce lifesaving APIs as well as train scientists across and practitioners Africa on how to develop and how to stimulate the growth of the API sector in our economy.

“Similarly, NIPRD was also the first of its kind to secure a quarter of a billion naira grant from TETFund as the lead of a consortium of three other organisations which focuses on the development of interventions. We are also at the various stages of grants with various bodies.

“We are also part of a consortium for the (sifocan) trial which is a grant to the tune of about 1.1 or 1.2 billion dollars alongside three other collaborators. We are looking at the efficacy and viability of factional dosing of COVID-19 vaccines.”

“I am reeling out these grants and the figures so that AHBN can know that they are in good company when they are talking to those big international partners they can be referencing those organisations I have mentioned. And again, we are working for WAHO which has also designated NIPRD as one of its Centres of Excellence in the sub region. We have several more between 6 and ten grants that we are currently engaging on.”

Responding, Coordinator of AHBN, Dr. Aminu Magashi applauded the innovations being put in place by the institute, revealing that NIPRD was one of the organisations whose activities are being tracked by the AHBN.

Magashi pledged that the AHBN will analyse and amplify the work done by NIPRD for wider visibility and attract both local and international funding.

“One of the biggest aims for coming here is to listen and learn from government agencies and also amplify the good things they are doing to a larger audience. As you rightly mentioned even though we are in Nigeria we need to spread the message to Africa because Nigeria being with over 200 million of population that is almost one fifth of the African population it means we have to spread the story.

“A lot of African institutions are emerging, the Afreximbank, African Development Bank, we have a lot of COVID-19 mechanisms. Kadijah is doing a lot that work in the AHBN which is to monitor the African Institutions that help us to do advocacy, so for example the Africa Medicine Agency, (AMA) which is part of the AU, the Africa Manufacturing Coalition and Networks.

“Just recently we organized a Webinar to look at the vaccine procurement and delivery in Africa. So these are some of the things we are doing to promote the mindset that Africa is ready to produce our drugs and also our vaccines. And that we should not be carried away by always getting donations. We should be employers of labour in producing.

“One tweet from us, we can tag the handle of all those African agencies including Africa-CDC, African Union Commission, the AU and all the agencies including WAHO. So these are the areas we are committed to work and develop some bullet points on how we can support NIPRD at the Africa level and also Nigeria as well.”

Remarks were made about the role of the late Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Mohammad Barkindo who was described as a great supporter of NIPRD’s policy to diversify Nigeria’s Oil and gas sector to focus more on petrochemicals which are precursors to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, (APIs).


47 African countries have 1.55 health workers per 1000 people, shows WHO study

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that says a serious shortage of health workers in Africa is undermining access to and provision of health services even though countries in the region have made efforts to bolster the workforce.

A statement from the WHO Africa Regional Office revealed that the study, titled “The health workforce status in the WHO African Region: findings of a cross-sectional study,” published this week in the British Medical Journal Global Health and which surveyed 47 African countries, finds that the region has a ratio of 1.55 health workers – physicians, nurses and midwives – per 1000 people.

“This is below the WHO threshold density of 4.45 health workers per 1000 people needed to deliver essential health services and achieve universal health coverage.
“Only four countries (Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles and South Africa) have surpassed the WHO health worker-to-population ratio.
“The region’s health workforce is also unevenly distributed by country, ranging from 0.25 health workers per 1000 people in Niger (the region’s lowest) to 9.15 health workers per 1000 people in the Seychelles – the highest in the region.”

Read: MDCAN calls for urgent implementation of review retirement age for Health workers

According to the statement: “There were approximately 3.6 million health workers in the 47 countries surveyed as of 2018. Thirty-seven per cent of them are nurses and midwives, 9% are medical doctors, 10% laboratory personnel, 14% are community health workers, 14% are other health workers, and 12% are administrative and support staff.

“Africa’s long-standing health worker shortage stems from several factors, including inadequate training capacity, rapid population growth, international migration, weak governance of the health workforce, career changes as well as poor retention of health personnel. It is projected that the shortage of health workers in Africa will reach 6.1 million by 2030, a 45% increase from 2013, the last time projections were estimated.

Reacting to the study’s findings, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said “The severe shortage of health workers in Africa has daunting implications. Without adequate and well-trained workforce, tackling challenges such as maternal and infant mortality, infectious diseases, noncommunicable illnesses and providing essential basic services like vaccination remains an uphill battle.”

It was also noted that globally, the Western Pacific region—which includes Australia, China, Japan and Malaysia—had the highest number of doctors at 4.1 million, and 7.6 million nurses in 2020, a report on human resource for health by the WHO Director-General to the 2022 World Health Assembly showed.

“The European region had 3.4 million medical doctors and 7.4 million nurses. Comparatively, the African region had around 300 000 doctors and 1.2 million nurses.
“To reinforce Africa’s health system, it is critical to address the persistent shortages and poor distribution of the health workforce. Countries need to significantly increase investments for building the health workforce to meet their current and future needs.

“Strong measures are also needed to boost training and recruitment of health workers as well as to improve their deployment and retention.”
The WHO also noted that several African countries have made progress to plug the deficit, however, the WHO study published this week acknowledges that resolving the health workforce shortages remains difficult due to the complexity and the scope of the issue.


DR Congo declares 14th Ebola outbreak over

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared the end of the Ebola outbreak that erupted less than three months ago in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province in the northwest.

A statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville and signed by the Communications Officer, Collins Boakye-Agyemang stated that the outbreak was the third outbreak in the province since 2018 and the country’s 14th overall.

“With greater experience in Ebola control, national emergency teams, with the support from World Health Organization (WHO) and partners, mounted a swift response soon after the outbreak was declared on 23 April, rolling out key counter measures including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention and control, treatment and community engagement.

“Vaccination – a crucial protective measure – was launched just four days after the outbreak was declared.

“In all, there were four confirmed cases and one probable case – all of whom died. In the previous outbreak in Equateur Province that lasted from June to November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths,” the statement read in part.

Read: D.R Congo Commences Ebola Vaccination, Says WHO

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti was said to have appreciated authorities for the robust national response which swiftly brought the outbreak to an end, effectively limiting transmission of the virus.

“Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly with limited transmission of the virus. Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response.”

Speaking further, Dr Moeti said “Africa is seeing an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas. We need to be ever more vigilant to ensure we catch cases quickly. This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead.”

It was also noted that the just ended outbreak saw a total of 2104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1307 frontline workers.

“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, six of which have occurred since 2018,” the statement further revealed.

“WHO supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo in implementing a strong national strategy developed early to guide response coordination; decentralizing operations to the lowest level to work closely with communities; basing the response on evidence; and regularly analysing the epidemiological risk to rapidly adjust the response.”

The statement clarified that although the outbreak in Mbandaka has been declared over, health authorities were still maintaining surveillance and ready to respond quickly to any flare-ups, as it is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following an outbreak.

“The disease, which affects humans and other primates, is severe and often fatal. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

“However, with the currently available effective treatment, patients have a significantly higher chance of survival if they are treated early and given supportive care.”

Refugee NHIS

FG Commence Registration of Refugees into NHIS

The Federal Government says it has undertaken the registration of refugees into the National Health Insurance Scheme.

The Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim made this known at an event in Abuja to commemorate the World Refugee Day.

The World Refugee Day is an international day designated annually by the United Nations (UN) to honour refugees around the globe and it is celebrated in June 20.


The day is set aside to celebrate the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution and this year is with the theme “the Right to Seek Safety.”

Sulaiman-Ibrahim in her remark said every person has the right to seek safety, whoever they are, wherever they come from and whenever they are forced to flee.

She said living in dignity, safety and peace does not discriminate against race, skin colour, tribe, social status, placement or class adding that it is a fundamental human right.

She assured that the government will continue to give them the assistance, support and protection they need.

She said the commission has also embarked on a massive training of their registration protection staff to do more for refugees and persons of concern.


WHO declares Togo Trachoma free as 26 African countries remain endemic

The World Health organization, (WHO) says Togo has eliminated trachoma, an eye disease that can cause permanent blindness, as a public health problem.

A statement from the UN Organisation stated that the West African nation becomes the fourth country on the continent to be validated by World health Organization (WHO) as having reached the elimination milestone after Morocco in 2016, Ghana in 2018 and The Gambia in 2021.

It explained that Trachoma is a neglected tropical disease, caused by bacteria and mainly affects children; in adults, women are up to four times more likely than men to be affected mainly due to the close contact of women with infected children.

“Repeated infection can severely scar the inside of the eyelid, turning it inwards and causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. This results in constant pain and light intolerance. Left untreated it leads to visual impairment or blindness.”

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “Togo’s achievement is a significant step in the progress towards trachoma elimination. Children across the country and their families can now live without the fear of the severe impacts of this preventable disease thanks to sustained control measures.”

According to the statement, efforts to eliminate trachoma in Togo started in 1989, with its inclusion as one of the priority neglected tropical diseases under the national control programme.

“The major elimination strategy was screening and treatment of people with late trachoma complications. Community participation was central to the success in Togo, with community health workers trained to identify suspected cases and refer them for examination and treatment.

Read: Mozambique declares outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1

“Togo also led series of awareness campaigns focusing on the importance of facial cleanliness and personal hygiene in the fight against trachoma and invested in significant improvements in the provision of safe water and access to better sanitation.

“Validation of trachoma elimination as a public health problem in Togo was based on evidence. Several population-based trachoma surveys were conducted starting from 2006 to 2017.

“The 2017 survey using WHO recommended methodology found that the prevalence of key indicators was below the WHO trachoma elimination threshold. There was also evidence that Togo’s health system is able to identify and treat new cases of late complications of trachoma.”

Meanwhile, Togo has globally joined 12 other countries that have been validated by WHO for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem – Cambodia, China, Islamic Republic of Iran, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

“Trachoma remains a public health problem in 43 countries with an estimated 136 million people living in areas endemic for the disease. Trachoma is found mainly in the poorest and underserved remote rural communities of Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

“The African Region is disproportionately affected by trachoma with 116 million people living in at-risk areas, which represents 85% of the global trachoma burden.”

The WHO said significant progress has been made over the past few years and the number of people requiring antibiotic treatment for trachoma infection in the African Region fell by 73 million; from 189 million in 2014 to 116 million as of June 2021.

“Following Togo’s success trachoma remains endemic in 26 countries in the African Region.”

blood donation

FG Set to Build Database to Regulate Supplies of Blood

The Federal government says it is set to build a comprehensive national database of blood establishments across various levels of government in the country in order to regulate, coordinate, and ensure the safe, quality, and affordable supplies of blood and blood products to all who needs it.

The Minister of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire disclosed this on Thursday at a one day sensitisation to share the mandate of the National Blood Service Commission (NBSC) in Abuja.

The Minister said an efficient health sector requires a national blood system that is fully integrated into the health-care system.

Represented by the Technical Assistant to the Minister, Dr. Chris Isokponwa, he said the import of this initiative is that a nationwide blood supply can be mobilised at any time of critical need speedily, effectively, and efficiently to save the lives of Nigerians.

He said the universal data availability on blood services in Nigeria will aid in the attraction of domestic investment in the safe blood value-chain from vein to vein.


He also said enormous opportunities reside for investments in the systems for well-regulated and coordinated blood collection, screening, storage, and distribution processes, and it is this enabling ecosystem that NBSC is strategically positioned to drive.

In addition, he said all critical activities within a national blood system should be coordinated centrally at the national level to promote uniform standards, economies of scale, consistency in the quality and safety of blood and blood products and best transfusion practices.

On his part, the Acting Director General of the NBSC, Dr. Omale Amedu while speaking with newsmen, said there is high deficit of blood in the database at the moment and as such Nigerians needs to be educated on the need to donate blood to save lives.

He said, having a population of over 200 million Nigerians we are expected to as a country have a minimum of 2million units of blood per annum but we however have 25 thousand save units on record.

He reeled out the health benefits of blood donations stating that when Nigerians donate blood they are revitalising their own system because as they donate the old blood, new blood cells are formed.

Dr. Amedu however debunk news of blood being sold noting that what ever money is collected, is for the preservation and sustenance of blood.

The Head Planning/Research and Statistics of the NBSC Dr. Adaeze Oreh in her remark, said every country should put in place policies, a legislative framework, systems, and structures to ensure the safety, quality, accessibility, and timely availability of blood and blood products to meet the needs of all patients who require transfusion.

The National Blood Service Commission Act of 2021 was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2021as part of the initiative of the administration towards provision of quality health care for Nigerians.

wild poliovirus

Mozambique declares outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1

Health authorities in Mozambique have declared an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 after confirming that a child in the country’s north-eastern Tete province had contracted the disease.

A statement from the World Health Organisation, (WHO), Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville stated that the case marks the second imported case of wild poliovirus in southern Africa this year, following an outbreak in Malawi in mid-February.

“So far, one case in Mozambique – the country’s first since 1992 – has been detected. The virus was found in a child who began experiencing onset of paralysis in late March. Genomic sequencing analysis indicates that the newly confirmed case is linked to a strain that had been circulating in Pakistan in 2019, similar to the case reported in Malawi earlier this year.

Read: Poliovirus: Malawi declares wild poliovirus outbreak

“The case in Mozambique and the earlier one in Malawi do not affect Africa’s wild poliovirus-free certification because the virus strain is not indigenous. Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild polio from the region,” the statement read in part.

World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “The detection of another case of wild polio virus in Africa is greatly concerning, even if it’s unsurprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi. However, it shows how dangerous this virus is and how quickly it can spread

“We are supporting southern African governments to step up the polio fight including carrying out large-scale, effective vaccination campaigns to halt the virus and protect children from its damaging impact.”

It was also explained that further investigations were underway in Mozambique to determine the extent of the risk posed by the new wild poliovirus case and the targeted responses needed; but preliminary analysis of samples collected from three contacts of the newly-detected case were all negative for wild poliovirus type 1.

According to the statement, Mozambique recently carried out two mass vaccination campaigns – in response to the Malawi outbreak – in which 4.2 million children were vaccinated against the disease.

“Efforts are currently underway to help strengthen disease surveillance in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The five countries will continue with mass vaccinations, with plans to reach 23 million children aged five years and below with the polio vaccine in the coming weeks.

“Globally, wild poliovirus is endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Polio is highly infectious and largely affects children younger than five years. There is no cure for polio, and it can only be prevented by immunization.

“Children across the world remain at risk of wild polio type 1 as long as the virus is not eradicated in the last remaining areas in which it is still circulating.”

Vaccine preventable diseases

WHO raises alarm over surge in vaccine preventable diseases in Africa

The World Health Organisation, (WHO) says Africa is witnessing a surge in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in Africa over the past year.

A statement from the United Nations agency, states that almost 17 500 cases of measles were recorded in the African region between January and March 2022, marking a 400% increase compared with the same period in 2021.

It further stated that twenty African countries reported measles outbreaks in the first quarter of this year, eight more than the first three months of 2021.

According to the statement, outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases have also become more common; twenty-four countries confirmed outbreaks of a variant of polio in 2021, which is four more than in 2020; in 2021, 13 countries reported new yellow fever outbreaks in the African region, compared to nine in 2020 and three in 2019.

Inequalities in accessing vaccines, disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic including a huge strain on health system capacities were among factors identified to have impaired routine immunization services in many African countries and forced the suspension of vaccination drives.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quoted as saying that “The rise in outbreaks of other vaccine preventable diseases is a warning sign. As Africa works hard to defeat COVID-19, we must not forget other health threats. Health systems could be severely strained not only by COVID-19 but by other diseases.

“Vaccines are at the heart of a successful public health response, and as countries restore services, routine immunization must be at the core of revived and resilient health systems.”

It was also stressed that two doses of the measles vaccine provided on schedule results in long lasting protection against the potentially deadly disease and that countries were expected to attain and maintain measles vaccination coverage of 95% with two doses to reach measles elimination.

Reference was also made to 2019 where six countries in the African region attained 95% coverage with first dose measles vaccination, while only three met this target in 2020, according to estimates by WHO and UNICEF.

“To urgently scale up coverage and protect children, WHO and partners are supporting African countries to carry out catch-up routine vaccination campaigns, with more than 90% of the 38 African countries responding to a global survey reporting that they implemented at least one routine catch-up immunization campaign in the second half of 2021.

“Some countries have successfully integrated other critical immunization campaigns with COVID-19 vaccination. For example, Ghana integrated COVID-19 vaccination with yellow fever campaigns in December 2021 to curb an outbreak that erupted a month earlier. Nigeria recently launched a vaccine scale-up strategy which guides the integration of routine immunization with COVID-19 vaccination for mothers and their babies.

Mass vaccination campaigns are also boosting COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Between January and April, the percentage of Africans fully vaccinated against the virus rose to 17.1% from 11.1%.

The Director, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr. Benido Impouma said “Routine immunization, a long-established practice in many African countries, has been severely strained by the impact of COVID-19. In the wake of this pandemic, we are committed to supporting countries devise smart approaches to scale up both COVID-19 vaccination and restore and expand routine immunization services.”


USAID applauds nurses, midwives others in malaria fight

The United States of America says over the past year, it has in partnership with Nigeria, advanced the fight against malaria, despite immense challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement issued by USAID in Abuja and made available to our correspondent, it was observed that committed and courageous frontline health workers, especially nurses, midwives, and community health workers, across the country went the extra mile to ensure essential malaria services were sustained – their efforts saved lives and supported community resilience.


“The U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) has partnered with Nigeria to fight malaria since 2011, contributing $768 million to date and $74 million in FY 2021. PMI’s Annual Report, released today, showcases how the strong partnership between the United States and Nigeria enabled robust and effective malaria services to continue in FY 2021, even as COVID-19 caused enormous strain on the health system.

“Through PMI funding and programs, 58 million bed nets, 130 million fast acting medicines, and 82 million malaria test kits have been delivered to clinics and communities since 2011. In addition, 24 million preventive treatment doses were delivered to pregnant women and 13 million doses to children during the rainy season.

“In the past year, more than 3,666 health workers received training that amplified their ability to detect and treat malaria, while strengthening the health system overall and providing key skills to fight COVID-19 and future pandemics,” the statement read in part.

USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson was quoted as saying “I think what Nigeria is doing to advance more effective malaria prevention, treatment, and control is so important, especially the introduction of innovative tools to make better use of the data in real-time, and also to enhance quality of care via community-based health workers.”

It was noted that following assistance by PMI investments, Nigeria is progressing its fight against malaria using proven and cost-effective methods that save lives and promise a more healthy and prosperous future for families and communities.

Acting U.S. Global Malaria Coordinator, Julie Wallace was also quoted thus, “With perseverance and strong global commitment we can end malaria in our lifetime. The United States is proud of our work with Nigeria in combating this deadly, yet entirely preventable, disease.”

Read: The Gates Foundation Support Nigeria To Fight Malaria

the United States as part of commitment to the reduction of the malaria burden and saving lives, the U.S Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa/Nigeria (USAMRD-A/N), also with support from the PMI, has been able to increase and strengthen the capacities of medical laboratory scientists in malaria microscopy, rapid testing, quality assurance, and laboratory supervision.

“USAMRD-A/N is also joining the State Ministries of Health in Akwa-Ibom and Benue, the National Malaria Elimination Programme, and the Nigerian Ministry of Defense in launching the National Malaria Slide Bank (NMSB) Project.

“The project will produce Nigeria’s first bank of validated, domestically developed slides for malaria microscopy training, external quality assurance, and future research purposes,” the statement further read.





Read: FMC Decries High Rate of Indebtedness by NHIS