In four days time, precisely November 2, all roads will lead to Abuja, where pharmacists from all over the country will converge for the 88th annual national conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) – “Unity 2015.”
According to the Executives of PSN Planning Committee this year’s event which will attract international participants as usual will come with a difference.
Addressing the journalists at the PSN National Secretariat, Anthony Village, Lagos, Olumide Akintayo, the National President, PSN, who is also a member of the planning committee stressed that this year’s conference is special as it will address childhood killer diseases under the platform of PSN-PACFaH project.
Specifically, PSN and Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) in Nigeria will make a presentation on progress in tackling childhood killer disease in the country at the conference and point the way forward.
According to Akintayo, the vision of PSN- PACFaH is to see its advocacy work contribute to getting government and relevant stakeholders work in concert to stop deaths caused by treatable childhood killer diseases (pneumonia and diarrhoea) which account for the death of over 400,000 children (per annum) under the age of five years in the country.
The PSN boss also noted that policy dialogue meetings to inform and obtain the support of key Policy Makers on the revised guidelines in the management of childhood killer diseases have been successfully conducted in two of our three focal States (Kaduna & Kano).
“In Kaduna State (which have included Amoxicillin DT & the other Life-saving Commodities in their Essential Medicines List), after the program the Ministry of Health through the Department of Pharmaceutical Services made a requisition for the first timeof four thousand (4000) units of Amoxicillin DT,” he said.
Akintayo further said: ‘Commitment was also obtained from key policy makers during the Kano Policy dialogue meeting to include Amoxicillin DT in the State Essential Medicines List that is currently been reviewed.
A National Policy Dialogue is being organised, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, to hold on November 12 (World Pneumonia Day).
The PSN President added: “To increase the capacity of indigenous civil society (community & faith-based) organisations in engaging with key policy makers, PSN-PACFaH has identified and is building a high performing team of 80 CSOs in four locations ( 20 at each location-Kano, Kaduna, Lagos and Abuja).
The teams are being equipped with relevant skills, knowledge and strategies to engage with the key project advocacy targets.”
PACFaH is an innovative three-year programme on child and family health, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and coordinated by a leading Nigerian Consultancy Firm, development Research and Project Center (dRPC).
The PACFaH programme is implemented through a coalition of seven indigenous CSOs (PSN, AAFP, CHRI, CS-SUNN, CISLAC, FOMWAN and HERFON).
PACFaH has four program areas including; Treatment of childhood; Pneumonia and Diarrhoea; Family Planning, routine immunization and Nutrition.
Akintayo said: “The PSN-PACFaH goals are to advocate for the revision of the National Treatment Guidelines/Essential Medicines List to include Amoxicillin dispersible tablet (Amoxicillin DT) adopted as First Line Treatment for Childhood Pneumonia by 2016.”
Others are to: “Increase buy-in/support for Zinc- Lo ORS as Treatment for Childhood Diarrhoea by 2016; Increase capacity of indigenous civil society (community & faith-based) organisations to conduct advocacy and track budgetary allocation for the procurement of child health commodities.”
The Director of Project, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria -Partnership for Advocacy in child and Family Health (PSN-PACFaH), Remi Adeseun, a pharmacist, who spoke during the media briefing said that pneumonia and diarrhea are child killer diseases yet to receive the necessary attention, adding that this has led to high child mortality rate.
According to him the pilot States for the PSN- PACFaH project are Kano, Kaduna and Lagos. The states were selected on the basis of the following considerations: High Burden (Disease Prevalence) – Kano; Responsiveness (History of working well with development Partners) – Lagos and Saturation (Host to ALL 4 PACFaH Issue Areas) – Kaduna, Adeseun added.
The PSN-PACFaH project has the following specific objectives: Advocate for the review of relevant national regulations to domesticate WHO/UNICEF’s new Treatment Guidelines that recommend Amoxicillin dispersible tablets as First Line Treatment for Childhood Pneumonia and Zn/ORS for Childhood Diarrhoea (Revised Standard Treatment Guidelines, Revised National Standing Orders (for CHOs, CHEWs and JCHEWs), Appropriate Listing in Revised Essential Medicines List & Updated PPMV List), the Director of Project, PSN-PACFaH, said.
Others, he said are to encourage local healthcare providers and private sector actors (Manufacturers, Distributors, and Community Pharmacies) to increase production, distribution and appropriate promotion of the essential Life-Saving Commodities-Amoxicillin dispersible tablets and Zinc/ORS for the effective treatment of childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea.
The rest are: Advocate for adequate and wide-spread training to ensure that Frontline Health Workers are knowledgeable about diagnosing correctly and effectively treating Childhood Pneumonia and Diarrhea using Amoxicillin DT and Zinc/ORS respectively. Build a high performing team of indigenous civil society (community & faith-based) organisations that will engage with key policy makers for the achievement of the project objectives.
He listed the achievements/interventions as: “PSN-PACFAH, building on its advocacy visits to key policy makers in the Government of Nigeria (NPHCDA in particular), pushed for and got admitted into the National Essential Medicines Coordinating Mechanism (NEMCM). NEMCM is a Technical Working Group of the FMoH and its agencies together with other key stakeholders in the Child and Family Health Space.
NEMCM has a mandate to coordinate the implementation of the Essential Childhood Medicine Scale-Up Plan (2012-2015) that entails the inclusion of the child health commodities (Amoxicillin DT & Zn/lo-ORS) into the Essential Medicines List (EML)&National Standard Treatment Guidelines (NSTG).”
Some of the major events that will take place during the opening ceremony of the conference are: Investiture of President Muhammadu Buhari, as Grand Patron of PSN.
Another major high point of the event would be the presentation of the Evergreen Award to one of the legends of pharmacy practice – Pharm. (Prince) Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi and the presentation of award to the ‘Overall Best Graduating Student, 2013/2014 Session,’ to Miss Nkiruka Ozioma Ibeanu – Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Ten pharmacists from the Community and Hospital Pharmacy will also be honoured by Pfizer Specialties Ltd at the closing banquet of the conference.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 29, 2015.