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Residents, others champion Lagos’ PHCs


Healthcare*Govt plans 10,000 centres nationwide as Zentiva opens in
Cooperation of some Lagos residents to improve the lot of Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in their local government areas has yielded dividends in the Ayobo-Ipaja area of the State.

The four primary health centres – Ipaja, Bada, Ayobo and Baruwa – that were abandoned by former local government authorities, are resuming function from self-help efforts of residents.

Through residents’ contributions and donations to fix basic services at the centres, sick residents and pregnant women can now access quality care without traveling kilometres.

Sharing the success story, Chairman of the Alliance Ward Health Committee (WHC) in Ipaja-Ayobo Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), Femi Olowolagba, said that a significant number of residents in the densely populated community could now heave a sigh of relief.

Olowolagba noted that since a year ago when they volunteered and were elected into the committee to mobilise support and map out action plan to address major issues in the four PHC, they have been able to change the face of primary health in the development area.

He recalled that only the apex PHC (located within the premises of Ipaja-Ayobo LCDA secretariat in Ipaja) was know and patronised in the while council area.

“But as we speak, people are coming to attend our PHCs more than before. In Ayobo PHC, barely do we have up to 10 people on an ANC day. But now, you will be counting between 40 and 50 persons on a Tuesday.

“Before, they used to rush to Ipaja PHC and majority will not be satisfied and they would be leave. It was the same for people in Baruwa and Bada. The influx to Ipaja was too much. Today, more people are now coming to the four units and that is our joy,” he said.

Olowolagba commended efforts of the Partnership for Transforming Health Systems II (PATHS2) that developed capacity of the WHC members and supported each PHC to function. PATHS2, funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), has helped mobilised WHCs to manage over 100 PHCs in Lagos.

Noting that there were still more challenges to address in the PHCs, Olowolagba appealed to the State Government to ensure that the LGAs/LCDA commit more funding into the primary health.

“That is where the local and downtrodden people are. If they are to gain anything from the government, then that is where it will start from: primary health. Health, they say, is wealth. Let government put more effort in the area of health,” he said.

Chairman of the WHC in Bada PHC said that through donations from residents, they were able to provide toilet, water and power supply, couple with engaging services of two doctors.

The main challenge, according to the chairman, was the non-availability of fence to secure the area. Absence of a standard pharmacy section in the entire LCDA has also deprived all the PHCs access to Sustainable Drug Revolving Fund (SDRF) scheme introduced by PATHS2.

“Our LCDA has not been able to create a pharmacy section, which when available, as PATHS2 has promised, would crash the cost of drugs in the four centres,” he said.

PATHS2 WHC Mentor, Mary Ikomoni, encourage the committee members and supporting residents to keep contributing to common good, citing that government cannot meet all public expectations alone or as quickly as expected.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to prioritise primary health in the country, the Federal Government (FG) has disclosed plans to have about 10,000 functional Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) nationwide within the next two years.

Ogun State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Babatunde Ipaye, who made this known, said that the initiative would ensure at least one model health centre per ward.

Ipaye, at the opening of Zentiva, a Sanofi company, explained that the FG has keyed into the PHC policy, “so we are going back to the basics to ensure the vulnerable population have access to quality healthcare before complications sets in.”

The commissioner noted that Nigerians could not afford the kind of medicines that are available in other countries because of our low investment in health.

He continued: “So that is why we need more organisations like Zentiva that brings essential quality generic drugs that would serve same purpose as branded ones at a cost five or ten times less. We need to cut our coat according to our cloth, as a country,” Ipaye said.

Ipaye, who was the special guest of honor told reports that the PHC is the only healthcare Nigerians can afford, particularly for those who live below two or one dollar per day, because as per “the national bureau of statistics, almost 60 per cent Nigerians are either poor or semi poor.”

He further said, though the size of health investment might be small, Nigerians still need to get quality healthcare at cheaper costs either in terms of product or services.

“So it is better we keep it simple by going for PHC which would intend address about 80 per cent healthcare needs of the population,” he added.

Director, Drug Evaluation and Research, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Pharm. Titilope Owolabi during her presentation reiterated that, people’s perception that generic drugs are counterfeit or fake is wrong, as cheaper does not mean low quality.

She further explained; “generic drugs are subjected to the same level of regulatory scrutiny as the branded drugs, so they undergo similar process of quality assurance in their manufacture.”

“Despite the lower costs of the generic drugs, considerations for their quality, safety and efficacy are never compromised when it comes to the process of their approval by the drug regulatory agency,” she lamented.

The NAFDAC representative noted that, for them, the overall essence is safety, and that is why pharmaceutical companies that manufacture both in the country and abroad are required to adhere to the World Health Organization’s (WHO), pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Owolabi also said, for NAFDAC to ensure this, “our officials inspect pharmaceutical companies from both within and outside the country for adherence.”

Also speaking at the launch was the Head, Primary Care Business Unit, Sanofi Nigeria-Ghana, Mr. Gabriel Ogunyemi who pointed out that Zentiva, which is a generic portfolio of Sanofi is veered towards producing quality and affordable drugs for Nigerians at all levels.

Ogunyemi, while reacting to people’s perception about generic drugs explained that, “generics generally are not substandard or fake, but rather copies of branded or innovator product whose patency is expired.

Therefore reducing cost of the drugs because generics do not bare cost of research developments like the innovator, that is why generic drugs are cheap, he noted.

In his address, Managing Director, Sanofi, Nigeria- Ghana, Mr. Abderrahmane Chakibi, identified that, an estimate of about 30 per cent of medicines in the Sub- Sahara Africa are either counterfeit, adulterated, substandard, illegally imported or mis – labeled, exposing people to more incidents of therapeutic failure and complications among others.

Chakibi, however said, in the mist of the economic pressure on governments, and health care providers, a significant portion of the population cannot afford basic healthcare and also have limited access to efficacious medicines.

He further said, this has increased the burden of both communicable and non- communicable diseases, and that is why “we continue to invest in Research and Development activities in order to discover and develop new therapeutic solutions appropriate to emerging health challenges.”

While appealing to the government on the need to encourage more Nigerians into drug manufacturing because about just 10 per cent of drugs consumed are produced in the country, Dr. Kolawole Owoka of the Health and Managed Care Association of Nigerian disclosed that inflation in health care is two or three times higher than general inflation.

Owoka, who identified the challenge of some drugs still escaping NAFDAC check, in spite of strict monitoring advised Nigeria to adopt the policy in Australia were all drugs are channeled through four major pharmaceutical companies.

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