Local manufacturers and challenge of producing equipment for managing COVID-19



Local manufacturers and challenge of producing equipment for managing COVID-19

, Nigeria News Agency

COVID-19 pandemic, no doubt, has triggered an awkward situation that is grinding the global economy to a standstill.

On the flip-side, the vagaries of the pandemic could also be an opportunity for local manufacturers to prove their mettle by producing the needed materials and equipment to tackle the pandemic.

At present, there is global shortage in critical items needed in handling the pandemic; hence the need for local manufactures to rise to the occasion.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its publication of critical items for COVID-19, listed under Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves examination, gloves surgical, goggles protective, gown protective, face shield, mask, particulate respirator and mask surgical.

Under the diagnostic equipment, it listed: Laboratory screening test kit, laboratory confirmation test kit, RTPCR kit, extraction kit, cartridges for RT-PCR automatic systems and swab and viral transport medium.

The world heath body, under clinical care equipment, listed–Pulse oximeter, concentrator O2, 10L, 230V, 50 Hz + acc, nasal oxygen cannula with prongs, ventilator, pediatric CPAP, with tubing and patient interfaces for adult and pediatric suction pump, mechanical and high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC).

Joining the global race to produce some of these items needed for managing the pandemic will not only help in providing medical succor, but also in boosting the businesses of local manufacturers.

The Federal Government, in its commitment towards containing the spread of the virus, said it would synergise with private sector in the production of some of the items needed to handle the pandemic.

Interestingly, local manufacturers have embraced the challenge and demonstrated the zing to locally produce some of these items if given the necessary support.

Some of them have even hit the ground running.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently assured that plans were underway to incorporate local manufacturers in the production of some of the items needed to manage the pandemic.

Osinbajo responded to questions at a Google Hangout, organised by the HACK COVID-19 Call Centre, where young Nigerian technology innovators talked about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and wellbeing of Nigerians.

“We have been working with many clusters of private sector manufacturers under the MSMEs clinics.

“For example, a lot of the clusters like the tailoring cluster in Aba have come together to give us different samples of some of the protective equipment that health workers wear.

“They have sent us one or two samples and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) will tell us whether any of them is appropriate for the circumstances so that they can begin to manufacture on a larger scale.

“Similarly, those who are making hand sanitisers are working on something; these are all local manufacturing concerns.

“Also, some people are even looking at local fabrication of ventilators,” he said.

Osinbajo said that state governments had been encouraged to fully support all private initiatives aimed at addressing issues relating to the pandemic.

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, recently shared similar sentiments with the vice president.

Emefiele was reacting to an observation raised during the Consultative Roundtable on the economy organised by the CBN in Abuja.

He said that the bank was considering conserving foreign exchange and supporting local production of the products needed in managing the pandemic.

“I am going to give the order that CBN will no longer buy foreign made sanitisers, since we now know that EMZOR Pharmaceuticals produces Nigerian-made sanitisers.

“Let it serve as an example to all other Nigerians; that is the only way EMZOR can continue to do well and contribute to the growth of the economy.

“We will pay in naira to buy the sanitisers rather than using dollar to import sanitisers from China,’’ he said.

Emefiele said that sanitisers would be listed as one of the items that would be banned from accessing foreign exchange for importation.

On its part, indigenous auto company Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), said it would contribute in addressing the shortage on vital equipment for the handling of COVID-19 if given the opportunity.

IVM’s spokesman, Cornel Osigwe said that the company could produce ventilators among other critical equipment.

“Innoson Motors is ready to assist the government in any way we can;  including converting out lines to produce ventilators and other equipment.

“But we need the government or other health institutions to place orders before we could take any step,’’ he said.

Deserving no less attention, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, said local manufacturers in the state had mass-produced face masks that would end the importation of the product into the country.

Ikpeazu said that the state had sent the first batch sample of the product to NCDC for approval for nationwide distribution to ensure they meet appropriate health standards.

“They are medical items which you must sanitise in a specific way; we have used the recommended items to sanitise them and I hope it will meet the requirement of the NCDC,” he said.

The academic community is not left out as some Nigerian universities have commenced production of some of the required items.

The University of Benin(UNIBEN) said it has started mass production of liquid soap and hand sanitisers.

Dr Benedicta Ehanire, Public Relations Officer of UNIBEN, who made the disclosure, said it was part of the institution’s purpose driven approach to such situations.

“Following the increase of confirmed cases of coronavirus(COVID-19),the University of Benin has commenced mass production of liquid soap and hand sanitisers.

“The initiative is part of proactive measures by the management led by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Lilian Salami to check COVID-19 pandemic.

“The management has also purchased more infrared thermometers to be deployed at all gates into the university, to be operated by security personnel who have been trained for the crucial assignment,” she said.

Enahire advised the general public to maintain high level of hygiene, observe the stay at home directive by the government and social distancing.

Still from the academic community, the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), said it had commissioned a team of engineers to fabricate ventilators for use in the state’s treatment and isolation centres.

Prof. Salisu Dan’Azumi, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, BUK, said a seven-man committee had been set up to produce a prototype ventilator for emergency use in hospitals and other isolation centres in Kano.

He said that the committee had started work and was given two weeks to present its report to the Faculty Board, the design and construction of prototype ventilators for emergency use in hospitals.

The dean said that the school would approach NCDC for necessary checks on standards before mass production, with the support of state and federal governments.

As local manufacturers zestfully demonstrate the capacity to produce critical equipment for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, perceptive observers say Nigeria is on the verge of having adequate medical equipment for internal use.

They say that if local production of PPE, diagnostic and clinical care equipment is properly harnessed and sustained to transcend the COVID-19 pandemic, wealth and jobs will be created, while Nigeria could also become a big player in global medical equipment production and export. (NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency

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Chijioke Okoronkwo

Chijioke Okoronkwo: NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. We are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and we strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor @ nnn.ng. Disclaimer.

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