Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said while the country has not got to the peak in terms of sickle cell disease management, it is no longer where it used to be following the development of NIPRISAN.
NIPRISAN is a drug developed by the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRID) for the management of sickle cell disorders.
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He stated this in Abuja during the presentation of the award of ‘NIPRID Champion for Eradication of Sickle Cell Disease’ to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health is committed to reducing the burden of the disease by implementing policies which would improve access to healthcare services for affected individuals.
This will consequently reduce under five mortalities caused by sickle cell disease, he added.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said a great opportunity exists for the country to stimulate its economy through pharmaceutical manufacturing, using the numerous natural resources.
While saying medicines’ security should not be left for government alone, he added that there is a need for philanthropists, development partners, and other relevant stakeholders to engage NIPRD, and sponsor some critical research activities to expedite access to essential medicines.
The Director General of NIPRID, Dr Obi Adigwe, said Nigeria has the largest population of persons affected with sickle cell disorder, and also has a high mortality rate for children less than five years.
Dr Adigwe said the mandate of the institute towards developing a cure and improving the quality of healthcare led to a fact-finding mission to champion the eradication of sickle cell disease in the African sub-region.
He said, “The outcome of this was the breakthrough with NIPRISAN, an anti-sickling medicine extracted from four local herbs in Nigeria which were found to be efficacious in the management of the disease.”
He said President Buhari’s administration helped to resolve the challenges of the production of NIPRISAN in commercial quantities, adding, “NIPRD became partners with a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company to begin production and commercialisation of NIPRISAN with the name NICLOVIX.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said his government would continue to do its best to ensure priority is placed on the local production of medicines by providing the appropriate support for NIPRD.
“It is our best desire to see that these contributions to research and development in the country subsequently eradicate sickle cell disease and promote healthcare for the Nigerian people,” he said.
He said the production of NICLOVIX by manufacturers in the country has substantially increased access to the drug for people with sickle cell disease within and outside Nigeria.