...Calls for welfare package to curtail recurrent sector strikes
As Nigerians, groups, different public and private sectors felicitate and roll out their expectations for the in-coming administration led by General Mohammed Buhari (rtd), the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called for a new agenda to improve healthcare in the country. Pharmacists under the umbrella of PSN, while urging the incoming the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration to come up with specific action plans has also recommended that attention should be shown in the reflected areas including, the Universal Health Coverage which it said should fully incorporate Community Based Social Health Insurance Programme (CBSHIP).
In a letter to General Buhari on Wednesday, signed by the PSN president, Olumide Akintayo, on behalf of the PSN’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the association said there is need for universal coverage, but insisted that this must harness and consolidate the philosophy of a managed care concept that is statute entrenched. The letter said that to achieve quality assurance in our version of social health insurance, it is important to ensure a consolidated healthcare funding which requires first line deduction of at least five per cent for healthcare delivery. According to the pharmacists, consolidated healthcare funding helps in funding the subsidy gap.
It further called for the promotion of the culture of corporate social responsibility by enlisting support of the banking, oil and gas and telecoms sectors which are the frontliners in the Nigerian economy. “The NHIS must partner the PSN and its appendages to champion a credible drug supply scheme by facilitating the involvement of major manufacturers and importers in the NHIS,” it added. PSN also recommended that the NHIS Governing Council must re-establish linkages with the highest level of government to nurture the required political will to ensure success for the scheme. The letter also called for massive advocacy to sell the new scheme to the health-consuming public and ensure a proper understanding of the workings of Health Insurance by the Nigerian public. It added: “We note that one of the major functions of HMOs is the establishments of quality assurance system as earlier mentioned and regret the near absence of the important function. This explains why providers not qualified for particular functions were allowed to offer such services at the detriment of the enrollee.”
Considering the important role cost containment plays in ensuring survival of the scheme, pharmacists recommended a set of incentives and sanctions to encourage providers to comply strictly with the operational guidelines. It also called for a well defined welfare package for health workers which redresses attendant stress junctions that have resulted in recurrent and perennial strike actions. The letter said: “An acceptable Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) initiative for some services in the health system to promote efficacy, boost competences and build capacity in the private sector. The PPP models must be worked out with the relevant professional associations and professional regulatory councils as they arise. “For the pharmaceutical sector, government at the centre must come up with reforms that will usher a petrochemical industry which is the precursor for genuine industrial revolution across board. The moment Nigeria comes up with benzene plants, then the inertia for primary manufacturing is established in contrast to the stuttering fortunes which we have continually witnessed in our country.
“At a time when we place emphasis on diverse sources of IGR because a mono-based economy comes with too much limitations and complications, government must exploit the vast expertise available in the pharmaceutical sector by making Nigeria a destination of choice for drug manufacturing in the foreseeable future,” it added. It also called for investment in research and development through substantial financial rates for the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD). “It is the shame of a nation that at time of national health emergences we depend entirely on other nations to provide vaccines and medicines for clinical disease states that are exclusive to the tropics. This must change in the envisaged new dispensation,” the letter stated. In the light of these suggestions, the PSN called on the incoming APC administration to organise consultative meetings which inculcates the stakeholders in health especially the professional associations and the trade unions. Such templates will foster unity and harmony as consensus positions can be effectively implemented by government, it said.
Meanwhile, the association in a its congratulatory message described General Buhari’s election as a well-deserved one. PSN was optimistic that the new President-elect has an impressive pedigree and antecedents and would succeed in running the country. The association further drew the attention of the incoming President and his administration to the problems of the embroiled health sector which it blamed on the nature of the appointment of those who preside over the Federal Ministry of Health by the out-going government.
PSN faulted the appointment of two members of the same profession in a multi-disciplinary sector to to head the health ministry. They therefore urged General Buhari to be open minded to embrace global realities which have opened up the hitherto restricted borders in healthcare. According to the PSN the norm today is to appoint seasoned administrators and managers of cognate experience to run the business of healthcare which is similar to any other business. They warned him to avoid the tendencies of some political acolytes who have always had bias for only a group of professionals who play God and have been allowed to assume the tragic epitomes of emperors in healthcare in our country.
This is even as they urged his leadership to come to up with fresh ideas and new thinking to move healthcare forward. The association which submitted an its version of an agenda for healthcare to General Buhari has also pledged its willingness to partner with him to ensure the achievement of good health for Nigerian citizens.
While thanking God for his mercies and protection over the President-elect throughout the duration of the campaign, it also prayed to God to grant him the wisdom, knowledge and courage to continue to lead the country to enviable heights. The statement reads: ”Your impressive pedigree and antecedents confirm you will always succeed in running Nigeria. We at the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria would like to seize this opportunity to inform Your Excellency about our willingness to partner with you to ensure the achievement of good health for all citizens in Nigeria.
“Your Excellency, it is imperative that we begin to draw your attention to the tears of the major care providers in the perennially volatile health sector in Nigeria. The fundamental problem at least in the out-going dispensation stems from the nature of appointment of those who preside over the Federal Ministry of Health. In the current dispensation the thrust of the dislocation was the appointment of two (2) members of the same profession in a multi-disciplinary sector to prevail. This was unprecedented and logically the many aberrations that still dot our lives are also unprecedented. “We shall therefore encourage Your Excellency to be open minded to embrace global realities which have opened up the hitherto restricted borders in healthcare. Today the norm is to appoint seasoned administrators and managers of cognate experience to run the business of healthcare which is similar to any other business.”
This story was published in Newswatch Times on April 4, 2015.