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PSN inaugurates poison emergency response centre

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Saddled with the task to curb the incessant suicide occurrence and the lack of preparedness for epidemic in Nigeria, the Pharmacy Society of Nigeria, (PSN), has concluded plans to upscale the activities of its Pharmacy Towers Project, Medicine Information Centre (MIC) to a National Drug and Poison Information, Emergency Response and Research Centre.

According to the pharmaceutical body, the project, worth about N2.6 billion, which will be unveiled today, Thursday, in Lagos, would operate as a national workplace 24/7 toll free call center with designated phone lines across each state in the country, for information on drugs to prevent epidemic, respond to suicide attempts, survival of victims exposed to untoward effects of drugs, substance of abuse and poison injuries through counselling, referral as well as mobilisation of appropriate response team.

The Chairman of the PSN Project Committee, John Nwaiwu, who spoke to journalists said the project, which is expected to be carried out and completed between a period of 15 to 20 months would be a call centre for the people’s safety, as it would mobilise and connect ambulance services, Red cross, state emergency response units, community pharmacists and healthcare professionals with hospitals and special care centres nationwide for the availability of emergency drugs, orphan drugs, consumables and sundry related information.

He lamented that during the last Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, there was no centre for drug information to protect the lives of people, as everybody were in darkness without knowledge of what to do to salvage the situation, neither is there enough information to help combat cancer scourge in both men and women.

Nwaiwu said PSN seeks to collaborate with government at all levels and non-government agencies involved in the safety and health of the nation from inflow of information to identifying drugs and substance abuse/misuse, poison and other related incidences by documenting all the reported cases, while it prepare quarterly report by local government and per state as well as prepare annual statistical reports of the reported cases and outcomes of all interventions by the centre among others.

“This centre is meant to help the entire community and once the community is being helped, it is a big boost to federal government of Nigeria. We are partnering with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in pharmacovigilance advocacy, and adverse drug reaction…”

This Pharmacy Information Centre will document the information that NAFDAC is looking for and we will be able to share information to help them in doing their work,” he added.He added that the Pharmacy body also seeks partnership of the government on evolving policies and institutions that will drive positive changes in drug use narrative in Nigeria as well as financing the project for the safety of Nigerians.

Explaining the project further, the Secretary of the Committee, Ndukwe Uma Ndukwe, said the centre would also serve as training and research centre open to all healthcare professionals and technical groups in their area of practice, and serve as a window for internship programme as well as expand pharmacy training curriculum to accommodate training of pharmacovigilance pharmacists, poison centre and pharmacy informatics “Activities of the centre will foster strong interpersonal collaboration with health workers in the emergency response chain, which will in turn positively affect the overall output in the medical facilities. The centre will also create jobs for different cadre of Nigerians from professionals to lay personnel,” he added.

Ndukwe maintained that the centre would also promote collaborative work between pharmaceutical companies, the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) and international research institutions, as well as promote research into production of herbal remedies of wholly local content and liaise with petrochemical sector for research into Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

The Secretary of the project committee noted that the telecommunication companies are already their starting partners, as there would be at least 37 phone lines nationwide to kick start the project, which would be open to every Nigerian, with the dedicated phone line in each state manned by trained personnel fluent in local language for a wider coverage and effective communication.

Ndukwe further added that the project would ensure the health financing burden on states and federal government will gradually reduce over the years, as government will have accurate data to work with, earn income from taxes and ensure an improvement in Nigeria’s rating by the international community.These, he said is why the PSN has involved some state governors, such as Lagos, Kaduna, Rivers and Abia a to kick-start the project, which would be replicated in all the other states of the country.


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John NwaiwuPSN
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