Guaranteeing availability of life-saving health commodities: The YODMA story

THE Yobe State Government on Thursday, May 27, held a breakfast meeting with State Commissioners for Health to share lessons learnt from its current collaboration with local pharmaceutical companies in its efforts to ensure the people of the State have access to essential health commodities at an affordable price.

Yobe State Commissioner for Health, Dr Muhammed Lawan Gana in his welcome address stated that the State government has benefited from the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement brokered by the Africa Resource Centre for Excellence in Supply Chain Management (ARC_ESM) in its procurement of health commodities directly from local Pharma and urged other states to key into the programme.

The journey began last year when the Yobe State Ministry of Health, under Dr Gana, took the bold step to seek opportunities to procure essential medicines directly from local pharmaceutical companies through a PPP arrangement to ensure its people at the primary health care centres across the state have access to quality and affordable medicines.

Due to the frosty relationship that has existed between pharmaceutical companies and State governments, as a result of delayed or non-payment for drugs supplied, the Yobe State Government approached the Africa Resource Centre for Supply Chain Management (ARC_ESM) to facilitate this partnership with specific objectives and terms.

ARC_ESM proceeded to engage the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMG-MAN) highlighting the objectives and the opportunities that emerge from such a partnership including the scale-up of the partnership model to other States. PMG-MAN informed its members of this opportunity and ARC_ESM provided additional context to those who indicated interest. ARC_ESM also conducted a due diligence assessment of these organisations which included a supply chain assessment. A total of nine Local pharma companies were assessed during the first round of assessments.

On August 10, 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Yobe State Ministry of Health and three Local Pharmaceutical (LPs) companies – Fidson Healthcare Plc, Juhel Nigeria Limited and Drugfield Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited. With ARC_ESM and PMG-MAN serving as brokers, both parties ensured that the agreement was adhered to by both parties with prompt delivery of drugs to the state and payment by the state government.

In March 2021, two additional LPs and a local distributor signed an MoU with the Yobe State Ministry of Health – SKG Pharma, May & Baker Nigeria and Phillips Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited. At this point, the Yobe State Government had become a beautiful bride being courted by various LPs in the country. This was due to three key factors: i) competent health professionals at the helm of affairs of Yobe State Ministry of Health, ii) the political will demonstrated by the State Governor, Mai Mala Buni who appointed and empowered the Leadership of the Yobe State Ministry of Health to deliver on his mandate and iii) the commitment from the State to ensure prompt payment to the LPs in line with the agreed timelines for supplied health commodities. If there were grey areas to resolve, ARC_ESM and PMG-MAN remained as mediators to address and resolve these between the two parties.

Subsequently, other states began to request similar arrangements. This necessitated the hosting of a breakfast meeting by the Yobe State Ministry of Health to share its experience and learnings while encouraging other States to consider a similar model to ensure the availability of essential medicines across their States.

During the breakfast meeting hosted by him, Dr Lawan Gana told his colleagues of the success story the PPP arrangement had become and how both parties now enjoy an excellent working relationship. He urged his colleagues to key into the arrangement for improved health outcomes for their states in particular and the country in general.

The Chief Executives of the invited pharma companies spoke glowingly of the trust that has now being built between YODMA and their companies and stated that they are ready to work with any state provided they would keep to the agreement.

The Chairman of PMG-MAN, Dr Fidelis Ayebae and the CEO of SKG Pharma Nigeria Limited, Dr Okey Akpa were full of praises for the wonderful work done by the Executive Secretary of YODMA, Pharmacist Abdul-Aziz Mohammed. They both agreed that the professionalism displayed by Pharm Abdul-Aziz and the involvement of ARC_ESM was what convinced them to get involved with the partnership agreement.

The meeting had in attendance the host; The Commissioner of Health from Yobe State, Other Commissioners of Health from Ekiti, Kano, Cross Rivers, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Sokoto, Niger and Enugu States; Senior Government officials from the Federal Ministry of Health including the National Coordinator of the National Product Health Supply Chain Management Programme, NPSCMP and Chief Executive Officers of Local Pharmaceutical companies including SKG Pharma, Drugfield Pharmaceutical Limited, Juhel Nigeria Limited, May and Baker Nigeria Plc, Orfema Pharmaceutical Industry Ltd, Jawa International Ltd, Fidson Healthcare Plc, Bond Chemical Industries Ltd.

 

Akintunde writes from African Resource Centre.

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