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Nigeria improves on WHO health system ranking, says ACPN

By Chukwuma Muanya and Charles Ozioma
26 November 2021   |   3:00 am
Nigeria has improved on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) health system ranking from 187 out of 191 countries two decades ago to 163 out of 191 countries.

‘Moves to 163 out of 191 countries from 187’
• Group wants implementation of drug guidelines
• Adopts DEPTH project for Universal Health Coverage before 2030

Nigeria has improved on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) health system ranking from 187 out of 191 countries two decades ago to 163 out of 191 countries.

National Chairman, Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Adewale Oladigbolu, disclosed this in Lagos, yesterday when the association’s National Executive Committee paid a courtesy visit to The Guardian.

“A strategic relationship between ACPN and The Guardian means so much to us, as this has the potential to improve healthcare practice and indeed the health and wellbeing of Nigerians. Our country currently ranks 163 of 191 countries in the WHO health system ranking,” Oladigbolu said.

He described the ranking as a statistical analysis of the overall quality of the healthcare system including healthcare infrastructure; professionals (doctors, pharmacists, nursing staff and other health workers) and competencies; cost (United States Dollars/USD per annum/p.a. per capital); quality medicine availability; and government’s readiness.

Before now, Nigeria ranked 187, only ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Myanmar.

The ranking uses performance indicators including the overall level of health, distribution of health in populations, responsiveness and distribution of finance.

The pharmacist, however, said all these parameters are human modifiable factors and the improvement recorded by the country was due to the increase in the health consciousness of most Nigerians, especially because of technological advancement.

ACPN is the umbrella body of over 6,000 community pharmacy practitioners across Nigeria. Typically, members render first-level and advanced level healthcare services along with the five spectra of health delivery: promotion, prevention, curative and palliative services.

Oladigbolu said the mass media has enormous potential to influence government policies, health-related behaviour and perception.

“The Guardian, without any iota of doubt, has been of great impact on this trajectory over the years, fulfilling the overarching goal of many human endeavours, which is to build a better society. ACPN, on the other hand, is a forward-looking association with key objectives of establishing and sustaining high standards of professional practice for her members for better service delivery to Nigerians. We also advocate health policy changes and advancement that will see to the improvement in our country ratings on the WHO index of the health system,” he said.

Oladigbolu urged the media to support the strategic focus of ACPN executives, which are the clean medicine initiative and DEPTH project.

On the clean medicine initiative, he said: “This project seeks to reorder drug distribution system in Nigeria through advocacy, implementation of existing government policies, mass education and technology. A situation where every Tom, Dick and Harry sells medicines in the open market is a disgrace to our health system.

“We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to implement the National Drug Distribution Guidelines without any further delay. The Guardian can support this advocacy and education through the creation of weekly columns for our members and a front-page promotion of our registered neon signs as a signpost of premises where the professional practice of pharmacy takes place.”

He said the DEPTH project seeks to aid the Federal Government in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) before 2030, in alignment with WHO and the Astana Declaration of 2018. He said the project would also support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal III, ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all.

The pharmacist said ACPN would speak to these objectives through advocacy for policy frameworks that support the expanding roles of community pharmacists in the primary health care delivery system in Nigeria.

He noted that between October 2017 and September 2021, community pharmacists were able to reach 300,0000 people with family planning commodities and services. There were 101,000 new acceptors of family planning services, while 17,871 unintended pregnancies were averted.

The ACPN boss commended the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for the inclusion of community pharmacists in the COVID-19 vaccination programme. He said these are examples of how policy changes could contribute to the well-being of Nigerians.

“We commend NPHCDA and the IntegratE Project for these. With your good offices, we believe that a larger percentage of the population will be better informed about the potentials of community pharmacy practice,” Oladigbolu added.

IntegratE is a proof-of-concept that community pharmacists and Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors (PPMVs) can provide a wider range of family planning services when trained in family planning counselling and service delivery.