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Pharmacists task minister on harmony in health sector


New PSN President, Ahmed I. Yakasai

New PSN President, Ahmed I. Yakasai

Pharmacists under the umbrella of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have among other things urged the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Folorunsho Adewole, to facilitate the immediate reconstitution of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) and boards of Teaching and Specialist Hospitals.

Also, to address the continued instability in the health sector and for a comprehensive, coordinated, safe health system that is responsive to the needs of the population, efficient use of resources, increased job satisfaction, with reduced stress and burnout of health professionals, the Society called for collaborative practice based on trust and mutual respect amongst the health care team.

President PSN, Ahmed I. Yakasai, in his address on the occasion of a courtesy visit to the Minister of Health, on Tuesday, said: “In the short time we have had to run without a governing council, we have tried very hard to sustain the ideals of pharmacy practice in Nigeria. Fundamentally, disciplinary matters and accreditation of pharmacy facilities for training suffers in the absence of Council.
We urge you to facilitate the immediate reconstitution of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN).

“In the same vein, it is pertinent we inform the Honourable Minister about the lopsidedness of appointments on the Board of Teaching and Specialists Hospitals as well as Federal Medical Centres. In the last dispensation pharmacists were represented on only five of the well over 55 Boards of these Federal Health Institutions. Our experience confirms that this lopsided appointment format affects healthcare plans and ultimately overall output. We therefore reiterate our previous appeal that at least one pharmacist be appointed on each of the Boards of our Federal Health Institutions.”

Yakasai also called for the enforcement of the Nigeria Drug Policy, which provides that 70 per cent of government purchase should be sourced from local manufacturers. “I think the time has come for this policy to be implemented at all levels of government. It will boost internal capacity utilization and make local manufacturing more attractive. With the new opportunity for new government and new way of doing things and from your character and characteristics, I have no doubt in my mind that you will provide a strategic direction, develop and implement policies that will see the Pharmaceutical sector become globally attractive and competitive,” he said.

The pharmacist, however, commended the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in initiating a Drug Distribution Guideline for the country. Yakasai said the concept of coordinated wholesale centres, which is now an added leg to the wholesalers offers a major opportunity to close down open drug markets in Nigeria once and for all.

He said the PSN, PCN, National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and FMoH have worked maximally on this project and the Society strongly urges the Honourable Ministry to sustain this spirit in the current dispensation.

Yakasai also called for the implementation of the National Health Act 2014. He said there is therefore an urgent need to factor in this broad spectrum solidarity in fashioning the implementation of the National Health Act.

The pharmacists said they are worried that the members of the 26-man Technical Review Committee and other related committees set up by the FMoH for the implementation are unknown to the larger portion of key stakeholders.

The PSN President appealed to the Minister to urgently address some pressing challenges in the health sector, which have lingered for so long.

Yakasai explained: “The issue of Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. For over three months, health professionals and workers, members of our Associations and Unions at the Federal Medical Centre Owerri were on strike, practically closing down the hospital for the entire period, subjecting patients and members of the public to untold hardship. It is hoped that the Fact Finding Committee that was constituted on this challenge would carry out her assignment expeditiously.

“Non employment of graduates of pharmacy into the Federal tertiary hospitals as intern pharmacists or as registered pharmacists even Federal Health Institutions in the catchment areas where pharmacy graduates were trained do not employ them.

“The attitude of management in some of the Federal Health Institutions is a major let down. Often times the Drug Revolving Funds are decapitated because the funds are diverted to other endeavours which is a violation of the Drug Revolving Funds manuals and guidelines in the enabling statute. The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria finds it necessary to inform you on the viability of well managed Drug Revolving Funds in public health institutions.

“The issue of commercialization or privatization of health facilities which cannot be in tandem with global best practice and is different from a public private partnership (PPP) concept.

“However, there is also need for health system audit and general overhaul for efficiency, therefore some services like catering, security, mortuary services and general maintenance can be totally privatised.”

The PSN President said the implementation of the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET) which allows finished Pharmaceutical products to be imported at zero percentage duty is a good gesture and same should be extended to raw and packaging materials which now attract a duty percentage ranging from five per cent to 20 per cent.

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