Speaker of Nigerian House of Representatives
Leads Commissioning Ceremony of
Port Harcourt Auto-Disable Syringe Factory
October 27, 2008 (Port Harcourt, Nigeria) … The Hon. Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, led other dignitaries in commissioning
The Nigerian President's designated representative, the Hon. Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives (wearing white robe), cut the ribbon — thereby commissioning the factory. Also pictured are (left to right) Governor Sylva of Bayelsa State; Mr. Bankole; PAHF USA Chairman, General Roger Blunt; PAHF founder, Mr. Yuichi Ishimaru; and Governor Amaechi of Rivers State.
the Auto-Disable Syringe Factory at Ozuoba-Obio, near Port Harcourt. Mr. Bankole served as the designated representative of Nigerian President Umaru Musa
The Pan African Health Foundation Nigeria (PAHF Nigeria, a Port Harcourt-based NGO) is establishing the factory. Upon completion, the factory will be owned and operated by the Nigerian Government. The factory will employ more than 300 local personnel and produce up to 160 million “safe syringes” annually for medical facilities nationwide.
Among the dignitaries at today’s commissioning ceremony were:
- Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State: the event’s guest of honor
- Governor Timipre Sylva of the neighboring Bayelsa State
- The Hon. Odein Ajumogobia, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum
- The Hon. Dr. Hassan Lawal, Nigeria’s Minister of Health
- Dr. Sampson T. Parker, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health
- Mr. Yuichi Ishimaru, Founder of the Pan African Health Foundations and Chairman of PAHF UK
- Chief Phillip Cheido Asiodu, Chairman of PAHF Nigeria
- Major General Roger R. Blunt (AUS, Ret.), PE, Chairman of PAHF USA
- Mr. C. Payne Lucas, Sr., Senior Advisor to PAHF USA
- Mr. Robin Bullock, Representative Director of Star Syringe of UK (the technology licensors)
Addressing the commissioning ceremony: Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State (the factory is located in Rivers State).
Noted Mr. Amenya E. Wokoma, Executive Secretary of PAHF Nigeria, “We can indeed afford to be celebratory, since at one time, due to lack of funds, the project seemed stalled. The Governor of Rivers State has to be especially commended for his timely intervention, which accelerated the project.”
The buildup to today’s event began on Saturday, 25 October, when Governor and Mrs. Amaechi hosted a breakfast for the representatives of PAHF USA. During that breakfast meeting, the issues relating to building on the success achieved through the completion of this project were discussed. Later that day, the Governor paid an inspection visit to the plant, accompanied by several Congressmen, Ministers and other dignitaries. Issues highlighted during the plant visit included the need for support from the Nigerian Federal Government to improve the plant’s competitiveness.
“Today, We Are Actually at a Start
and Not a Finish Line”
The project began on 30 November 2004, when then President Olusegun Obasanjo (who also serves as Grand Patron of PAHF Nigeria) presided over the factory's groundbreaking ceremony.
Over the past four years, the project has attracted extensive support from the Nigerian Federal Government, but the bulk of the financial support (up to 90 percent) has come from the Rivers State Government. PAHF Nigeria’s “sister” NGOs — the London-based PAHF UK and the Washington, D.C.-based PAHF USA — have provided technical and financial assistance. However, a U.S. $3 million pledge by the oil companies operating in the Niger Delta (curiously) remained unredeemed at the time of the 27 October commissioning.
PAHF Nigeria expects the factory to be up-and-running in early 2009, following employee training and several months of trial production.
Founder Yuichi Ishimaru cautioned that, “today, we are actually at a start and not a finish line — and the challenge going forward will be to ensure that the plant is operated properly, maintaining global standards on a sustainable basis.”
Noting that the factory, at full production capacity, will meet about 20 percent of Nigeria’s need for AD syringes, the Governor of Rivers State pledged his support for the expansion of the plant to produce up to 500 million syringes per annum as well as to enable the production of needles in Nigeria.
AD Syringes Save Lives
Auto-disable (AD) syringes use an automatic-locking device and de-activate after a single use, thus preventing re-use. Syringe re-use can transmit blood-borne pathogens — each year in the developing world, leading to a combined total of more than 25 million new infections of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other diseases (resulting in up to 1.4 million child deaths, in addition to adult mortality), according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO has identified AD syringes as the preferred method for preventing syringe re-use.
The WHO cites the inadequate supply of AD syringes in Africa as a major factor contributing to the high incidence of needle-transmitted diseases. Each year, the Port Harcourt factory will produce up to 160 million AD syringes: enough to have a substantial impact within Nigeria.
By producing syringes locally, that is, eliminating import-related costs, the factory will reduce the price per syringe by as much as 10 percent. Affordability also will improve because Nigerian distributors will be able to purchase the syringes with local currency, rather than foreign-currency reserves. Finally, the factory’s not-for-profit operational structure will ensure the lowest possible prices for the AD syringes.
The factory’s numerous other benefits will include the following:
- Local jobs and skills training: The factory will have 300-plus employees, all local people.
- Transfer of technology (principally, the Star K1 AD Syringe) to Africa.
- Beneficial use of local raw materials and other locally-available resources.
- Increased local self-reliance.