ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said that his government would encourage production of essential drugs locally instead of relying on importation. The president gave the assurance while receiving a team of Pharmaceutical experts led by Professor Olu Akinkugbe at the presidential villa, Abuja. Incidentally, the team was constituted by the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library to develop an agenda for the health sector in the country, President Buhari while speaking at the meeting recalled that the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), under his chairmanship in the 1990s, had developed what was referred to as “institutional strengthening,” in which PTF supported pharmaceutical companies with resources to encourage local production of drugs. He stated that such experiment could be revisited. “We can revisit the experience. We can strengthen pharmaceutical companies to produce essential drugs needed in the country locally. We can then be sure of the quality of such medications”, he said. On privatization of healthcare institutions as canvassed in some quarters, President Buhari stressed the need to exercise caution and consider the state of development of the country before adopting the option. “Privatization aims at maximum profit. It then excludes the poor and the vulnerable from accessing healthcare. But we have to look after the poor,” the president said. A statement by Mr. Femi Adesina on the meeting added that the Professor Olu Akinkugbe-led team had earlier given insights into its agenda for the health sector to include proposals on healthcare financing, developing health intelligence/observatory to preempt epidemics, simultaneous focus on primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, preventing labour unrests in the health sector, facilitating access to essential drugs through local production and the drug distribution system among others. Akinkugbe commended President Buhari for keeping faith with the change doctrine in the country. He added that the current economic harsh realities was global and not peculiar to Nigeria, expressing optimism that the future of the country was bright.