The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is heavily weighed down by poor revenue and obsolete equipment, LEADERSHIP can authoritatively report.
A comprehensive investigation carried out by our correspondents showed that the once vibrant product and drug regulatory agency is reeling under excruciating financial burden which has seriously hampered its operations.
Apart from releasing funds for salaries, the federal government does not allocate funds to the agency for other recurrent and capital expenditures, top NAFDAC officials said.
Worse still, the National Assembly does appropriate funds through the yearly budget ritual for NAFDAC, thereby placing it as a revenue generating and self-sustaining organisation.
In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP, some senior NAFDAC officials painted a pitiable and pathetic picture of happenings in the agency that gained global limelight during the golden era of the late Professor Dora Akunyili as director-general.
One of the officials lamented that NAFDAC is facing serious Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) problem to the extent that it has no money to acquire key equipment to perform its regulatory functions.
According to him, NAFDAC solely relies on its IGR to cover overheads and uses the “leftover for fixing the old equipment.”
He said: “NAFDAC has been left to be self-sustaining and it shouldn’t be so. Even in the United States of America (USA), our sister agency is funded by the government and its budget is in billions of dollars. So, it is high time priority is given to NAFDAC.”
On budgetary allocation for the agency and the purchase of new equipment, the source said that “there is nothing like budget because the National Assembly does not budget anything for us. We usually have budget but it is not funded by the government, it is the money we generate that we use.
NAFDAC is charged with the regulation and control of manufacturing, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water in Nigeria.
It also has the duty to check illicit and counterfeit products to safeguard the citizen’s health.
It was further learnt that even when NAFDAC prepares a budget of about N10 billion, it gets only a paltry N100million for the whole year.
On how the agency generates its revenue, the source said: “Our IGR comes basically from services that we render and key among them is products registration. These fees come from laboratory analysis, inspection and other charges imbedded such as inspection of products entering into the country.”
On the last time the agency acquired new equipment, the source said that equipment are constantly bought but on a small scale.
Two years ago, the Bank of Industry (BoI) came to NAFDAC rescue when it donated N40million equipment for analysing products to the agency.
Last week, NAFDAC boss, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, shocked the visiting members of the Senate Committee on Health in Lagos when she said that 80 per cent of the agency’s equipment is obsolete.
She said that the current sordid state of NAFDAC facilities was far from international standards.
Adeyeye said, “Most of our equipment are obsolete and you cannot use old equipment for analysis, so we need to re-equip. The World Health Organisation (WHO) came to inspect our facilities and they gave Yaba facilities almost zero per cent because the centre is too small and the equipment are not there.”
Lamenting that the agency gets very little support from government in terms of funding, Adeyeye said: “In 2017, we had a proposal of N6.1 billion, of which N164 million was appropriated and at the end only N82 million was released.
“In 2018, we had a proposal of N8.4 billion, of which N229 million was appropriated and only N22.9million has been received.”
“We requested for 50 operational vehicles to perform our mandate, till now, none has been released. We don’t have computers and we requested for 1,000 computers and we have not gotten any,” she lamented.
However, NAFDAC director, Special Duties, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, told LEADERSHIP that the DG had adopted measures to keep the agency afloat.
Some of them include direct engagement of manufacturers abroad in the acquisition of vital equipment.
He said: “The advantage of dealing with these manufacturers abroad is that they come here to look at this old equipment and allow us trade-offs, that is what we are exploring because the equipment is very expensive.”
Jimoh appealed to the government to come to NAFDAC’s rescue because its activities affect most Nigerians.
In his contribution, the former chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Lagos State branch, Mr. Gbenga Olubowale said that NAFDAC regulates and controls the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled and packaged water, chemicals – generally referred to as regulated products.
Olubowale said that these are the products Nigerians consume daily, hence the need for it to be properly funded.
He said that a situation whereby almost 80 per cent of NAFDAC equipment is obsolete, would affect its smooth operation.
Also, the managing director, BIOFEM Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited, Femi Soremekun, said that the impact of NAFDAC using obsolete equipment to work has been pronounced when it comes to registration of new products and analysing products in the laboratory.
Soremekun said that the stakeholders always experience delay in the registration of new products due to obsolete equipment.
He appealed to the government to release more funds to the agency.