Vitamin A : Obasanjo Gives NAFDAC Orders to Pickett Hospital

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August 25, 2006/ thsiday

President Olusegun Obasanjo has directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to close down any hospital that sells Vitamin A capsules, saying the capsule is free of charge to children under 59 months and lactating mothers.

He also warned against its production by any one in the country, saying it is only UNICEF that manufactures them on specific order and supply to countries.

 Vitamin A capsule is a nutrient that enhances bone and teeth formation, development of cells and membranes in children as well as boosting of immunity and the storage of fats in women after delivery.

Obasanjo’s warning came against the backdrop of the commercialization of the capsules by some “unscrupulous elements” at the expense of the health of children.

At the flag-off of the National Sensitization Workshop on appropriate distribution and use of Vitamin A capsules, Obasanjo who was presented by the Health Minister, Prof. Eyitayo Lambo, said a leakage had been discovered in the distribution chain in which some chain officers in some states have diverted the nutrient for personal gain.

“NAFDAC is hereby empowered to extend its dragnet on drug regulation to eye clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and other outlets that sell vitamin A capsules and ensure the arrestand prosecution of all offenders involved in the criminal act,” he said.

Obsasanjo vowed to intensify the elimination of all disorders caused by vitamin A deficiency so as to reduce infant morbidity and mortality among children saying 80,000 Nigerian children could died annually if no effective action is taken to prevent and control Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD).

In her speech, the Director General, Prof. Dora Akunyili expressed readiness to implement the presidential directive, advising those involved to stop in their own interest.

She said NAFDAC regulatory officers have taken up the challenge by looking out for outlets where vitamin A capsules are sold, trace the sources of supply and sanction all those involved.

Akunyili clarified that unlike multivitamins which are used for normal purposes, Vitamin A capsules are special preparations that enhance natural resistance to infections in children, which are required in small quantities for optimal human health.

She commended UNICEF for its continued support to NAFDAC and assured of judicious utilization of all resources provided.

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