Retooling pharmacy practice to optimise healthcare service delivery
*Weak regulatory environment, chaotic drug distribution channels stall progress, says PSN
Pharmacy practice and education are critical to the success of the healthcare delivery system. This is evident in availability, accessibility of quality, safe and effective essential medicines.
Over the years, pharmacist have lamented the weak regulatory environment, unregulated drug distribution channel, professional complacency, inadequate human resources and funding as challenges against the development of the pharmaceutical and health sectors in Nigeria.
However, the President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, has said that efforts are being put in place to fix the issues surrounding the pharmacy practice across the country. Ohuabunwa made this known to The Guardian recently in Lagos, at the Contract Signing Ceremony for the Pharmacy Tower Project.
The president explained that Pharmacy Tower Project would provide accommodation for PSN, serve as drug information centre, and provide drug emergency outlet that would also serve Nigerians and also be a reference point for every matter related to drug information and emergency.
Ohuabunwa explained that the project would serve as a major resource centre for the pharmaceutical industry and indeed the entire healthcare system.
The pharmacist further stated that the project would serve as a training and research facility with the intention to improve life expectancy and foster strong inter-professional collaboration with health workers in the emergency response chain.
He continued: “What we did today was to Sign contract with parties, partners and project managers, and consultants that would support us in the Pharmacy Tower Project that we are putting up. It is significant because it is the biggest project that the PSN is undertaking in many years of its existence.”
The PSN boss urged the government to create an enabling environment so that pharmacy practice can thrive. On sanitising the drug market, Ohuabunwa added: “The major problem is that you cannot close down the markets without an alternative, the markets will open again. The government is trying to take away the unregulated market and create a regulated market, which would be a wholesale market that is properly regulated.
“Only registered premises would operate, drugs from registered sources and authenticated sources are only allowed and only those who are authorised to buy medicine can buy unlike what we have now, come one come all. In trying to do it, one would think that the government would have invested money to build the new Coordinated Wholesale Centres; they decided to leave it for the private sector. It is not easy to obtain the land and its documentation. This is the delay. The delay was mainly getting those lands from state governors.
“The hurdles are being crossed and work has really gone well so far. Government is trying to be realistic, otherwise we professionals’ would want it done yesterday. We are praying that the government should not allow it to be an unending thing. They must see how to support the private sector to get it all done. PSN is doing its best. We are liaising with a different investor group to see how these things can be done.”
The pharmacist said although there is growth and evolution, they are not where they ought to be, stressing that they are still not satisfied with the regulatory environment and they also expect the drug distribution in the country to be better than it is currently.
Similarly, Secretary, Pharmacy Tower Committee, Ndukwe Uma Ndukwe, said what they have achieved was to officially engage the technical personnel who will work with the builders to erect the pharmacy tower that would monitor the entire processes.
Ndukwe added that essentially, regulation has been a challenge for the pharmacists, and government support is also a challenge. The secretary said it is important for the government to understand the peculiarity of what pharmacy and its practice stands for
“We would continue to strive and educate, work and collaborate with the government for better understanding of our role in the society so they better appreciate what we can do for the Nigerian nation both on the economy, health and on social front. All we need is an enabling practice environment whether it is the industry, retail, hospital or academia so as to give only the best to Nigerians in whatever area they engage a pharmacist,” he noted
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