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Academy of Pharmacy wants NHIS to cover mental health treatment, drug rehabilitation

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NHIS building


*NAP calls for medicines control under the purview of pharmacists to improve distribution channels’ integrity
The Nigeria Academy of Pharmacy (NAP) has adopted a sustainable approach to eradicating drug and substance abuse in the country. The NAP, in a communiqué released at the end of its symposium on the subject in Lagos, expressed concern that the abuse of drugs and other substances has become widespread in recent times particularly among the youth population. They want the menace of drug abuse checked since it can impair the efforts being made to put the nation on a higher socio-economic pedestal.

The President, NAP, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi and the Chairman, Drug and Substance Abuse Committee, Dr. Lolu Ojo, signed the communiqué. Dr. Martin Osayande Agwogie delivered the keynote address, while some eminent professionals made contributions through the panel discussion.

Agwogie, in his keynote address, X-rayed the national drug and substance abuse phenomenon and its nefarious effects, policy gaps apparent from the failures associated with the regulation of controlled medicines, and principles of evidence-based substance use prevention.

Agwogie called for: scientific approaches to substance abuse prevention; capacity building amongst pharmacists for effective delivery of evidence-based substance abuse prevention, rehabilitation and post-rehab care; collaboration among ministries, departments, and agencies of government including all other stakeholders; and professionalization of drug demand reduction in Nigeria.

The symposium noted that the non-medical use of drugs and other substances is on the rise and pose a significant security risk to the Nigerian populace and called on government and all relevant stakeholders to prioritize the appropriate control of abuse-prone substances, drug demand reduction and stemming of their illicit supply.

The symposium recommended that the three factors important in the consideration of non-medical drug use (NMDU) – exposure, supervision, and de-marketing of drug use must be actively cultivated in our society to ensure that young persons have positive protective factors to delay initiation of drug use.

The symposium identified the need for appropriate interventions to ensure that efforts made are effective in reducing non-medical drug demand and use. The symposium recommended that the Pharmacy Bill must be signed into law to adequately give the regulatory agency the power to tackle the issue of illicit distribution of pharmaceutical opioids and other substances of abuse.

The symposium recommended that mental health treatment and drug rehabilitation should be included under the cover of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and ensure that medicines control is put firmly under the purview of the pharmacists to improve the integrity of drug distribution channels. The symposium recognized that the majority of patients reported obtaining illicit pharmaceutical opioids, narcotics and other substances of abuse from unauthorized or illicit sources. It, therefore, called for empowering the regulators to control illicit handling.

The symposium called for improved government investment into data gathering and intelligence deduction to support the efforts of all responsible agencies in their activities to reduce demand and stifle supply. The symposium noted that in spite of the epidemic of drug abuse, there was still undersupply of the licit pharmaceutical opioids for managing pain and terminal diseases.

The Symposium, therefore, called for increased collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and other agencies, to work towards a speedy resolution of this gap.


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