PCN links poor family planning to shortage of pharmacists
• Says One Pharmacists For Every 10000 Nigerians Not Enough
The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) has lamented that low number of pharmacists is partly responsible for the slow uptake of family planning in the country.
The Registrar of the Council, Elijah Mohammed, who disclosed this in Abuja, at the Integrate project media roundtable, said the ratio of one pharmacist to every 10, 000 Nigerians was not enough to cater for the populace health needs.
The IntegratE project, co-funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for mothers, is aimed at improving the quality of Family Planning Services delivered by Community Pharmacists (CPs) and Patent and Proprietary Medicines Vendors (PPMVs) in underserved areas of Lagos and Kaduna states.
According to Mohammed, due to fewer licensed and practising pharmacists in the country, the need to employ the services of CPs and PPMVs has now become critical.
“The pharmacist population ratio is very low. But we are tackling that, aside the fact that there is also a serious brain drain of pharmacists. Most of them are migrating to Canada. Pharmacists, who should be the healthcare professionals in charge of safe and effective medication use are insufficient to serve the country’s population,” he said.
He said though the country was producing about 1500 pharmacists yearly, the accreditation of more faculties of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences in universities would jerk up the figure to about 2000 or 2500 per year.
Director, and Head, Reproductive Health Division, Ministry of Health, Dr. Kayode Afolabi, said the low uptake of family planning has been recorded as a major factor of high fertility pattern, as well as high population growth rate of the country.
According to him, private sector accounts for almost 60 per cent of health services provision, including child-related health services, with drug shops and pharmacists comprising 40 per cent of the private healthcare sector and 83 per cent of all child health care services in Nigeria.
“Improving uptake of family planning cannot be done alone by government but with collaboration with stakeholders, especially the private sector,” he said.
Managing director, Society for Family Health (SFH), Omokhudu Idogho, said government was committed to achieving the goal of a contraceptive prevalence rate of 27 per cent by 2024, including working with state and local governments to secure complementary budgets for family planning and reproductive health services.
Idogho, who was represented by the deputy chief of party for the IntegratE project, SHF, Michael Alagbile, said: “The commitment includes training frontline health workers to deliver a range of contraceptives and actions to improve equity and access to family planning for the poorest, and to partner the private sector, civil society, traditional and religious institutions and development partners.”