Provision of adequate healthcare, a challenge to govt – Akintayo, PSN president

Nigerian pharmacists and other stakeholders in the health sector joined in the global celebration of World Pharmacists Day, last week Friday. Olumide Akintayo, President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) who during the occasion addressed myriads of issues that impinge on Good Pharmacy Practice called on government to reconstitute the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which was recently dissolved alongside the boards of other parastatals. CHIOMA UMEHA (HEALTH EDITOR) provides the excerpts:

Why is access to medicine critical in health care practice?

Health is a fundamental human right; indispensable for the exercise of many other rights in particular, the rights to development and necessary for living a life of dignity.

From a human right perspective, access to medicines is intrinsically linked with the principles of equity, non-discrimination, transparency, participation, and accountability.

For this reason key issues related to access to medicines must be taken into account. These issues will include: Sustainable financing, Availability, Affordability, Price and quality, Efficacy of medicines, Dosage, Procurement practices, Supply chain management and Ethics/pharmaceutical care.

What is the significance of this year’s theme? What is its link with good pharmaceutical practice and growing demands of better health in the country?

For many years, FIP has recognised that access to medicines is a major issue in many parts of the world and pharmacists play a key role throughout the whole supply chain towards improving access to medicines.

However, access to medicines itself will not result automatically in optimal health outcomes.

Indeed in 2012, a study quantified that 500 billion US Dollars could be saved every year if responsible use of medicines were achieved, and pharmacists have been identified as a strong and under-utilized asset to achieve responsible use of medicines.

The perfect combination is therefore access to medicines and pharmaceutical expertise, or in other words, to pharmacists.

In 2010, it was estimated that 13 per cent of the visits at a community pharmacy are concluded with advice only (and without sales of any products), highlighting that pharmacists are the most accessible and trusted healthcare professionals in many countries throughout the world.

Discuss how partnership can help in responsible use of medicine

Medicines must go hand in hand with pharmaceutical expertise, or in other words, with pharmacists. This is a partnership essential to the responsible use of medicines. But other partnerships are also important. Every day three million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists around the world act as partners to patients, other health care professionals and other scientists, throughout the whole supply chain and with the shared vision of better health.

Across the globe our profession is clearly demonstrating all the requirements of great partnerships; shared goals, commitment, vital skills and rapport, as well as the ability to have difficult talks and to overcome obstacles.

Give details of PSN efforts to guarantee Good Pharmacy Practice

As the nation’s custodian for drugs and medicines and a strong advocate for safe medicines, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) and the Nigerian pharmacists look forward to the full realization of Good Pharmacy Practice (GPP) to optimize wellness of consumers of health.

We are indeed aware that Section 34 of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to the dignity of every Nigerian. It is common knowledge that right to dignity of a human person is only feasible when we can guarantee some basic rights to access to quality medicines, shelter and food.

What is PSN doing to address and meet the needs of complex patients?

Devising strategies to treat complex patients and tailoring pharmacy education to optimize patient care must be part of future initiatives in pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences all across the globe. Change is sweeping through pharmacy and healthcare on a global scale.

A new era of healthcare development brings with it much hope. As more solutions become available to patients – whether they are medicines, therapies or services provided by healthcare providers – pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists can help with their ever more complex care. The understanding and treatment of human diseases is complicated and challenging because patients themselves are complex.

Inadequate access to essential drugs and other healthcare commodities is the bane of Nigeria’s health sector?

Providing adequate healthcare to their citizens remains a major challenge for governments in Africa. Unsatisfactory and inadequate access to essential drugs and other healthcare commodities is a key limitation that impacts on people’s health in most developing and least developed economies.

Pharmacists are in a prime position to help patients take their medications in a timely and appropriate manner to ensure that they receive the full benefit of therapy. The pharmacist can help increase adherence to drug regimens by providing patients with additional information about individual drugs, identifying potential adverse drug reactions and interactions, and supplying appropriate drug containers or compliance aids.

Adherence to medicines is essential in improving the health and wellbeing of population, what is the situation in Nigeria?

A recent survey reveals that with an average of 120 patients served per day in a pharmacy, and one out of six of those asking for advice without buying a product, patients already benefit from asking their pharmacists for advice on medicines and health in general. We need to build on this and have a more structured approach to providing medicines use reviews. Nigeria needs to catch up fast and be in line with our global counterparts.

Our pharmacists need to move away from the traditional role of just dispensing medicines to helping patients use their medicines more efficiently with the ultimate goal of optimising the impact of medicines, minimising the number of medication related problems and reducing waste.

Our pharmacists need to be empowered to provide this much needed service to people in the community. Government bodies and other healthcare professionals need to understand the impact that pharmacists can have in promoting and increasing adherence to medicines and give their full support and collaboration to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.

Pharmacists will devise strategies to help complex patients and tailor pharmacy education to optimise patient care as part of future initiatives in meeting global and international standards.

PSN is calling on every Nigerian to celebrate our profession this September and to use World Pharmacists Day to promote the valuable role we play – and could play – in bringing about great health for all.

Reconstitution of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria

The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria wishes to call on President Mohammadu Buhari, to reconstitute the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) which was recently dissolved alongside the boards of other parastatals. Our practice environment has gotten to a most wretched level which logically cannot afford another vacuum in terms of regulatory control.

Disciplinary procedures must be a continuous phenomenon on erring pharmacist or pharmaceutical company. The absence of PCN Governing Council in a strategic profession like ours boosts the fake drug syndrome albeit tragically. The situation in our profession is replicated in some other healthcare professions which are now justifiably issuing ultimatums.

Other statutory functions like the accreditation of training facilities for pharmacists and support staff in pharmacy are almost jeopardized. The routine practice matters in the area of monitoring and control are not in the best of health as it has also been impossible to get council to strategize to boost efforts of the Registry of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria.

We implore the federal government to halt the drift in the operational efficiency of the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria by reconstituting it now and subsequently invoking the spirit of the law that provides for perpetual succession in the enabling act.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on October 3, 2015.


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