Wednesday, 27 January 2016

New PSN boss pledges to establish Medicines Information Centre

• Rolls out 23-point agenda for improved healthcare

Adverse drug events occur frequently and lead to a significant number of fatalities each yearly across the world, Nigeria inclusive. For instance, it has been estimated that fatalities directly attributable to adverse drug reactions are the fourth to sixth leading cause of death in US hospitals, exceeding deaths caused by pneumonia and diabetes. The economic burden resulting from drug-related morbidity and mortality is equally significant and has been conservatively estimated at $US30 billion dollars annually, and could exceed $US130 billion in a worst-case scenario.

In view of this, the new National President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, (PSN), Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, yesterday announced that PSN has commenced a project to reduce adverse drug events and medication related errors, reducing prescription, dosage and duplicate therapy errors in the country.

Yakasai, who said this while rolling out his 23-point agenda as the new PSN boss for the next three years, during maiden media briefing at the Pharmacy House, Lagos stated that he will achieve this goal by establishing a Medicines Information Centre in collaboration with UK Medicines Information Service, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and Monitor Health Care.

Yakasai, who is the 20th President of PSN, also explained that the goal of the collaboration with the various agencies is to discover ways of addressing adverse drug events and medication related errors, reducing prescription, dosage and duplicate therapy errors. He stated that the project has since commenced and will officially soon be unveiled.

The PSN helmsman said one way of achieving this is “To establish a Medicines Information Centre in collaboration with UK Medicines Information Service, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and Monitor Health Care.

L-R: Hon. Pharm. John Enger, FPSN, KSM, FICEN Deputy President North; Pharm. Olumide Akintayo, FPSN,FPCPharm; Immediate past President; Pharm. Ahmed. I. Yakasai, FPSN, FNIM, FNAPharm, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and Pharm. Gbolagade Iyiola, MAW National Secretary at a maiden press conference of the new president at the the pharmarcy house in Lagos, yesterday.
“This is with the aim of finding ways of helping to reduce adverse drug events and medication related errors, reducing prescription, dosage and duplicate therapy errors, providing standard terminology and improved data entry, helping improve organizational efficiency, providing access to continually updated, evidenced-based clinical content and enhancing patient safety. The work on this project has commenced and soon we will invite the media for the official launch of this idea.

According to the The Lancet adverse drug reaction is defined as “an appreciably harmful or unpleasant reaction, resulting from an intervention related to the use of a medicinal product, which predicts hazard from future administration and warrants prevention or specific treatment, or alteration of the dosage regimen, or withdrawal of the product.”

Yakasai also said that strengthening the pharmaceutical society with collaborative, participatory, responsive and transparent leadership is critical in his agenda, adding his regime will ensure actualization of Pharm. D. programme as a minimum entry requirement for the practice of pharmacy in the country.

Other highlights of his agenda are the implementation of National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG) and National Health Act 2014; Promotion and support of Drug Research and Development.

He also said that PSN will create an online system for professional registration and e-learning for the Mandatory Continuing Professional Development (MCPD) which is designed to update the knowledge of pharmacists and enable them keep abreast of advancements in pharmaceutical development and modern trends in pharmacy.

Still outlining his agenda, Yakasai said that PSN will “Establish research grants to undertake research and independent assessment of drug quality, MCPD needs of pharmacists, etc. in collaboration with academia; Initiate professional indemnity insurance to pharmacists and strengthen group insurance.”

According to him, he aims at promoting rational use of drugs with cooperation from medical fraternity, establish research grants to undertake research and independent assessment of drug quality, MCPD needs of pharmacists in collaboration with academia.

This is just as he pledged to pursue vigorously the welfare of health workers in the country; establish Friends of Pharmacy Forum to strengthen bonds with external bodies and bring about digital innovations to enhance the efficiency of our practice in-line with international standards.

Yakasai said though Lassa fever is not as deadly as the Ebola Virus Disease, adding that Nigerians need re-orientation to fight the disease as death toll reaches 50.

To this effect, he declared that part of his agenda will be directed to stimulating public awareness and knowledge on various health, hygiene, sanitation issues and diseases with specific emphasis on drugs.

The PSN President further told journalists that he is set to enhance the role of the association by means of wider advocacy at various national and international fora in order to achieve effective health care in the country.

Similarly, the PSN boss said he is aiming at contributing to improved health care by fostering better communications with Federal and State Ministries, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN); National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)Schools of Pharmacy, among others.

Other strategies of contributing to improved health care in the country are by strengthening ties and relationship with other professional organizations/agencies.

Yakasai however said that there is need to review pharmacy laws and regulation in collaboration with relevant arms of government in tandem with global best practices, noting that he seeks to strengthen institutional framework including; structure, systems and processes of the society.

He added that he will work towards the implementation of National Drug Distribution Guidelines (NDDG), Promote, support Drug Research and Development.

He further said that PSN under his regime will establish a mechanism for recognizing and endorsing valuable contributions of members (past, present and future) adding that he will encourage, give more opportunities as well as build capacities of young pharmacists and students of pharmacy.

Commending previous annual national conferences of PSN, the National President promised to creatively organise future conferences that will meet international standards.

On appraisal in the health sector, Yakasai said though the sector has achieved giant strides especially the ability to curtail and prevent fresh cases of Ebola Virus Disease.

Another huge achievement was the resolve of government and care providers to prevent new episodes of the wild polio virus infection which had hitherto given Nigeria notoriety as one of the major exporters of this killer childhood disease, the National President said.

However, he warned that Nigeria can only be completely delisted from the endemic countries if surveillance and immunization is sustained, while the Federal and State governments continue to meet the financial commitments to sustain the momentum.

Yakasai said: “On the positive side was the resolve of government and care providers to prevent new episodes of the wild polio virus infection which had hitherto given Nigeria notoriety as one of the major exporters of this killer childhood disease. However, for Nigeria to be completely delisted from the endemic countries we must sustain the surveillance and immunization so that by 2017 we can be certified free of polio. This eradication of polio can only be possible if the Federal and State governments continue to meet the financial commitments to sustain the momentum.”

He hopes for the full implementation of the National Health Act, adding that if implemented will discourage medical tourism even as he said that Nigeria loses over one billion naira annually from medical tourism.

His words: “Nigeria’s first National Health Act was passed into law in 2014, but nothing serious has happened in terms of operating the basic tenets of the enabling Act. This Act, if implemented will be funded from one percent of Nigeria’s consolidated revenue and grants by International donor partners through the National Health Care Development Agency which will manage 45 per cent of the fund as follows: Essential Drugs and Vaccines, 20 per cent; laboratory equipment and transport, 15 per cent and human resources, 10 per cent.

“While the National Health Insurance Scheme which will manage 50 per cent of the fund will cover pregnant women, children who are less than five years; the elderly from 65 years and physically challenged persons. The Federal Ministry of Health will manage five per cent of the fund for the provision of basic minimum package of health facilities (Emergencies),” he added.

According to him, the country’s health sector is still battling with poor access to public health interventions, while diseases like HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis are still present, stressing the need for advocacy and review the Nigeria dependence o donor agencies hence the need for enabling environment for intervention funds to aid local manufacturers produce anti-retroviral drugs and vaccines.

He said: “The country’s health sector is still battling with poor access to public health interventions, while diseases like HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, etc are still with us. Here, I need to advocate that there is a need to review our dependence on donor agencies, hence the government should strongly create enabling environment by way of intervention funds to enable our local drug manufacturers to produce antiretroviral drugs and even Vaccines.

As we are all aware Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Initiatives is gradually withdrawing from Nigeria. I must appreciate the Federal government through the National Health Care Development Agency for organizing Stakeholders forum on Vaccines production to stimulate interest and develop a business plan for local vaccines production in Nigeria.

“As we march on in 2016, the Federal Government must embrace universal health coverage to give teeth to global norms which presume that access to health must be the right of all citizens. The fastest way to achieving this is to embrace primary healthcare which places a premium on preventive care.

“The Federal Ministry of Health must promote a true Public Private Partnership agenda which is fashioned out in conjunction with the relevant regulatory agencies and professional bodies with regards to the health professions,” the National President admonished.

He also assured that there will be greater engagement with the public through educative and enlightening special promotion campaigns, examples are; Diabetes, hypertension among other diseases.

He however, thanked all Nigerian Pharmacists for electing him and also the privilege of becoming the 20th President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on January 14, 2016.

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