Delegates to the ongoing National Conference yesterday recommended stiffer penalty of life imprisonment for peddlers of fake or adulterated drugs.
They also called for a restriction of medical tourism as Nigeria spends huge amount of money on those seeking medical treatment overseas.
The delegates also called for a reduction in the age limit for all elective offices, including the offices of the president, governors and national assembly, which were rejected.
According to the report of the Social Sector Committee headed by Mrs. Josephine Anenih, “A major threat to the provision of quality healthcare for Nigerians is the prevalence of fake, adulterated or sub-standard drugs. This is despite the gallant and commendable efforts of NAFDAC over the years to combat this heinous phenomenon.
“This might partly be because the main focus of the agency in its task of regulating and controlling drugs has been on dealing with peddlers of fake drugs. They may be overlooking the fact that apart from greed, the illicit trade is encouraged by the belief of some Nigerians that drugs from overseas are more efficacious than drugs produced in Nigeria.
“Unscrupulous merchants in drugs capitalise on this erroneous belief and ignorance of the people to procure fake and sub-standard drugs from overseas to make higher profits. There is every need towards securing the integrity of our country’s health system and safeguard the good health of our citizens by putting an end to this ignoble phenomenon,” the committee stated.
It was in view of this that the delegates recommended that stiffer penalties should be instituted for persons and corporate bodies that produce, sell or knowingly use fake, adulterated or sub-standard drugs, including life imprisonment in a case where fake drug is proven to be directly linked to the death of a patient.
The committee further said that there was need for improvement in the quality of healthcare services in Nigeria and there should be deliberate efforts to re-orientate the attitude of healthcare workers to patients in Nigeria and as well as the need for improved political commitment to health care by political office holders.
On the discrimination against youths, Mike Ozoekhome and Charles Ibiam called for the reduction of the age limits of those seeking election into different offices. Ibiam said that it amounts to discrimination if youths at 18 years should vote but should not be voted for. He urged the conference to recommend that the age limits be removed.
Ozoekhome (SAN) who supported him, cited the cases of former Nigerian leaders holding offices at a younger age, asked what the age limitation tends to solve when in other countries the youths assume elective offices at a younger age.
On education, the delegates urged the federal government to focus on tertiary education because it is capital intensive and very critical to manpower development for all facets of human endeavour.
They also called for increased workshops/laboratories for practical courses due to the dearth/paucity of these facilities and increase in enrolment, stating that the 30:70 polytechnic and 40:60 universities ratio in favour of science based courses during admission should be strictly enforced.
The committee called for regular meetings with the various unions for the review of existing, and the implementation of agreements in other to forestall frequent strikes by unions, while pro- chancellors should be persons who can attract funds for the institutions.
The committee said that considering the carrying capacity of institutions, that Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) results should last two years to enable the students have another trial to secure admission.
Other aspect of the recommendation include that the quality of programmes offered at the National Open University should be strengthened to improve standards, while government should facilitate the removal of the dichotomy on polytechnic/university graduates.
It was also recommended that government should establish a financial institution that would give loans to students from less privilege homes to attend both public and private institutions.