Experts have faulted Nigeria’s legal enforcement/regulatory mechanisms, saying it lacks the capacity of protecting the ultimate consumer against counterfeit and pirated goods, as well as obstacle to Africa’s development. Stating this recently at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) SummEx (Summit & Exhibition), the experts linked improved Nigeria’s legal framework with progress in food security and disease control.
They stressed that achieving food security and disease control, particularly malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health is critical to Africa’s attainment of the required socio-economic development.
The experts further explained that this involve access to drugs that are safe and efficacious, and food that is wholesome and nutritious, but regretted that the country’s poor legal framework is a big setback giving rise to high index of fake and pirated goods.
Emphasizing this in his paper titled: “Counterfeiting Legislation and Enforcement,” Dr. Paul Orhii, NAFDAC DG, said that the main task of any Food and Drug Control Authority is to ensure the purity, quality, safety and efficacy of the food and drugs made available to the public.
Orhii explained that this is mainly done by making sure that the manufacture, procurement, import, export, supply and sale of food and drugs; product promotion and advertising as well as clinical trials are carried out according to specified guidelines.
The NAFDAC boss stressed: “Thus, if Africa is to attain the required socio-economic development, it must make progress in the areas of food security and disease control; particularly malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health.”
According to him, food and drugs imported or manufactured outside of effective regulatory frame work would pose great and immediate risks to the public.
The NAFDAC boss maintained: “It must be understood that any agent that directly threatens to destroy a significant proportion of a state’s population constitutes a direct threat to that state’s economic wellbeing and health security. Health is an index of development and no country has achieved any remarkable economic growth and social development without necessary improvement in its national health report.”
However, lamenting at this year’s SummEX which was mainly sponsored by the First City Monumental Bank (FCMB), experts said that the country’s legal framework is outdated in tackling today’s counterfeiting.
Speaking, one of the presenters, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) J.A. Badejo, explained: “This is partly because the legal regimes have the reputation of lagging behind the 21st century ICT age and obviously the laws, though quite ambitious in anti-piracy and counterfeit products or devices, remain slow or weak and inadequate.
He added: “The efforts of enforcement/regulatory mechanisms need to be strengthened technically, materially, financially to live up to expectations for the health, safety and security of consumers and for sustainable development, of our societies.”
Also, speaking on behalf of Abubakar Jimoh, Director, Special Duties, NAFDAC, Christiana Obiazikwor, Chief PRO, of the agency said that the programme has been put together for direct engagement with all stakeholders under the statutory regulation of the food and drug agency.
According to her, the summit and exhibition is a single platform for the agency and all her stakeholders to showcase innovations and ideas.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on December 12, 2015.