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Sterilising drug distribution in northern Nigeria: Walking the talk

The current clampdown and closure of the chaotic open drug market in Sabon Gari Market, Kano State, by the joint task force of the Pharmacy…

The current clampdown and closure of the chaotic open drug market in Sabon Gari Market, Kano State, by the joint task force of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria (PCN) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is commendable and timely.

This is a crusade that every pharmacist and indeed every well-meaning Nigerian must support. As the minister rightly said, this will certainly improve the quality of the medicine supply chain system in northern Nigeria and the country at large. The Coordinated WholeSale Centre (CWC) in Dangwauro, Kano, will safeguard the system from infiltration by substandard, counterfeit medicines and other illicit substances that have been debilitating our people, making it easy for our teeming youth to indulge in drug addiction and abuse.

The unregulated open drug market in Kano has robbed the future of many talented people; males and females, making it easy for controlled drugs and illicit substances to circulate freely and available for misuse. Indeed, the CWC will streamline the flow of medicines from manufacturers to the market and the general public not only for the good people of Kano State but for the entire northern Nigeria and indeed to some neighbouring countries alike. Thus, it is a way of unlocking the full potential of the healthcare value chain across different levels.

When I look at the big picture, I come to terms that if this remains the only project the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate, would accomplish in the entire northern Nigeria during his entire tenure, the North will be grateful. The impact of this gigantic stride might not be immediate, but I am certain that many generations (the masses) will benefit from this project. It is a time bomb for any society or nation to abdicate the distribution of medicines in the hands of quacks and unregulated. I am saying this from a real-life experience; in 2021 under the TETFund project, I sampled antimalarial drugs across open drug markets in Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina states. The experimental results we got from those drugs were terrible and a majority of those drugs were unfit for human consumption. The funny part is most of the medicine vendors from Kaduna and Katsina states informed us that they purchased the drugs from the open drug market in Kano. Have you ever wondered why you treated your malaria and yet you still suffer the fever? Well, this might be the answer. Medicines are not candies that you can sell anywhere and anyhow!

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Special thanks to the great men and women of the PCN and NAFDAC for the sleepless nights and concerted effort to safeguard the healthcare value chain in Kano for the good of the general public and thumbs up for redeeming the image of the pharmacy profession in this trying time. The same goes for the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Kano State branch, for the job well done.

Finally, I recommend that all northern governors should emulate what the Kano State government did to establish standard medicine distribution centres like the CWC in Kano to ensure value for money for the medicines our people consume. This will ensure quality, safety and efficacy for which all medicines are designed to offer rather than harm.

Let us all walk the talk.


Khalid Garba Mohammed, PhD, wrote from London

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