Thursday, 13 January 2022

NAFDAC Sensitises MSMEs On Guidelines For Registration Of Regulated Products

The National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Wednesday organised a sensitisation programme on its guidelines for registration of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) regulated products at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Hall, Ikeja, Lagos.

Prof. Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, Director-General, NAFDAC, said the aim of the programme was to sensitise the public and specifically the operators of the NAFDAC Regulated Products Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) Industry.

Prof. Adeyeye said that NAFDAC has a statutory responsibility to safeguard public health through the execution of its mandate which is to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, bottled and packaged water, chemicals – generally referred to as regulated products.

She said that on assumption of office on November 30, 2017, she resolved to consolidate the gains of the past and take the agency to greater heights.

“This requires that our approaches to regulation imbibe best international practices and are aligned with global regulatory standards as we strengthen our regulatory oversight. With a very wide mandate, I do appreciate and recognise the broad stakeholder base of the agency.

“In the words of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, ‘MSMEs are the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialisation and inclusive economic development; and the most important component of industrialisation as set out in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

“The Statistician General of the Federation and CEO of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dr. Yemi Kale, in his public presentation of the NBS-SMEDAN National Survey of MSMEs Report, revealed that about 41.5 million MSMEs were registered in the year 2017. The contribution of this sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country is huge hence the reason for government’s serious attention,” she said.

She said the sensitization programme was to provide a platform for discourse and exchange of information, which relates to NAFDAC’s expectations from the MSME regulated sector and get feedback from them all.

Prof Adeyeye said that since the Federal Government on May 18, 2017 signed the Executive Order 001 (EO1) on Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the business environment, NAFDAC has continued to work with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to deliver on this and improve service delivery of services to customer in a more transparent and efficient manner.

“In line with the Ease of Doing Business, the agency created the Small Business Support Desk (SBSD) whose function is to facilitate registration processes for micro and small business operators through engagements such as MSME Clinics, Exhibitions, NAFDAC Product Registration Outreach (NaPRO).  One of the first milestone decisions made by the agency on MSMEs is the 50 percent reduction in tariff for registration processing which has led to an increased number of applicants coming forward to the NAFDAC,” she said.

Adeyeye said the decentralisation of registration of certain regulated products commenced in April 2018, and was done to make approvals at the zonal levels more effective and easily realisable for MSMEs businesses.

“This has been made possible after the creation of six Zonal, Lagos and FCT Offices all headed by directors. In order to maximise the competencies of staff and overall output, some staff were transferred to man these offices with input from the respective directors.

“Additionally, the laboratory analyses of MSME products are expeditiously treated with utmost urgency. The outcomes have been very satisfying as it has helped the agency to arrive at an improved official timeline for MSME registration as 90 days. Sometimes, NAFDAC has been able to meet the timeline in about 60 days,” she said.

For the ease of the MSME products exportation, Adeyeye said the agency has reviewed the guidelines such that applicants can make submission at the NAFDAC Zonal Offices and process at the Ports Inspection Directorate (PID) within a timeline of 28 working days.

“This is believed to enhance the business and generate foreign exchange into the Nigerian economy,” she said.

Adeyeye said NAFDAC was fully embracing institutional regulatory reforms for sustainability and entrenching a Quality Management System (QMS) that is making the staff to think of the customer first in all its operations.

“This has led to certification on ISO 9001:2015 obtained on June 7, 2019.  Being a customer-focused, Agency-minded business strategy, the goal has resulted in continuous improvement in overall performance in order to provide a stable foundation for entrenching a quality culture within the scope of our activities,” she said.

Adyeye also said that to increase efficiency NAFDAC has embraced fully the deployment and use of ICT in its operations.

“Our website has been revamped to increase transparency and we will continue to strive to build a more robust ICT platform.  We have enhanced our communication mode with the use of more secured emails, with all staff activating their official NAFDAC email to ease communication with you our esteemed stakeholders as well as fostering internal communication,” she said.

She said NAFDAC has scaled down some of the processes for the micro scale manufacturers without compromising standards and put in place policies that would drive growth in the MSME sectors in line with ease of doing business, with emphasis on local production and the reason is not far-fetched.

She said the number of documents; staff strength and room space was scaled down for the micro and likewise, the number of products they can manufacture. She said the boldest move made so far by the agency was consent for use of personal kitchens to manufacture certain classes of MSME products under micro scale.

“Albeit, may I state clearly that the kitchens cannot be used for family cooking, therefore, the hygienic condition must be such that safe products can be made therein,” she emphasised.

“Still in the spirit of ease of doing business, the agency has put in place processes and procedures for companies with similar products and limited resources to use common facilities provided their products are similar. This initiative is designed to nurture new and small businesses by supporting entrepreneurs through the early stages of registration of their products. However, the initiative is restricted to MSME products only with examples being that of the Technology Incubation Centre (T.I.C), Ikorodu Development Centre (I.D.C).

“In carrying out some of the core functions of NAFDAC, the Agency engages with you our stakeholders to ensure compliance with extant laws and regulations. This forum is one of such engagements.

“We are aware of the agency’s responsibility and commitment in growing local industries and her support for foreign companies doing business in Nigeria. In line with this, the agency offers technical advice to manufacturers on matters such as factory location, grade of equipment materials, design / layout of factories and documentation requirements.  Appropriate guidance and support are also given to establishments, depending on type and nature of products, intended for registration. Furthermore, the Agency ensures timely inspection of production facilities as soon as all prerequisites are in place.

“We are appealing to the industry to support NAFDAC by adhering to agency’s laws and regulations. These are enforced to ensure that operations and activities are in line with NAFDAC’s and regulations and guidelines. Self-audit and regular reviews of product information and labels are especially encouraged. Companies should ensure that they maintain a robust system, which allows for effective monitoring and control of their products that are already in trade. This is necessary for effective intervention in the event of unexpected product defects, which may necessitate immediate product recall,” Adeyeye said.

She emphasised that NAFDAC Management discourages the use of middlemen/agents for the purposes of product registration as applicants are welcomed to visit the NAFDAC Office/s nearest to them when necessary and could also communicate through established official channels like e-mails.

“I would like to mention here that the responsibility of ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of regulated products does not lie solely with NAFDAC, but with all stakeholders. In conclusion, the agency wishes to increase collaboration with various stakeholders to ensure that the regulator, the regulated and other stakeholders are all on the same page, which is in line with global best practices.

“We are looking forward to improved consultations, robust interaction and dialogue with all stakeholders in this very important MSME sector. The overall aim of this collaboration is for the agency to act as a guide and partner rather than policing the regulated and to ensure that the economy is strengthened through active engagement of MSMEs,” the NAFDAC boss said.

Advocacy Group Seeks MDAs Support In Consumables Availability

A Non-Governmental advocacy working group, Family Health Initiative, Ogun (FAHIO) has sought the support and cooperation of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), of government in the process of making consumables available in the public health facilities.

This was revealed in a statement made available by the Media Officer of the group, Mrs. Waliyat Odemakin, after an advocacy visit by the group to the Ogun State Head of Service and some top government officials in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
The Chairperson of FAHIO, Mrs. Kemi Balogun at the visit emphasized the need for increased contraceptive uptake and access to quality family planning services, adding that success on these would help the state achieve its targeted 52 percent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) by year 2020 as well as reduction in Maternal Mortality and Morbidity rate to the barest minimal.
According to Balogun, Improved Family Wellbeing and proactiveness of government agencies in the implementation of policies and programmes would strengthen health system.
Her words, “The participation and support of MDAs in the process of making consumables available in public health facilities will further increase the contraceptive uptake and access to quality family planning services, thereby assisting the state in realising the 52 percent Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR), by year 2020 as well as reduction in maternal mortality and morbidity rate to the barest minimal”, Balogun emphasized.
Responding, the Ogun State Head of Service, Engr. Lanre Bisiriyu established the developmental initiative of the group to the enhancement of government policies in the provision of efficient healthcare for the resident of the state adding that public private participation will reduce pressure on government.
Bisiriyu assured the support and cooperation of MDAs of government in the state for necessary assistance to the organisation, saying that the issue of effective family planning and reduction in maternal mortality and morbidity rate were paramount to the present administration in the state.
“The door for support, assistance and cooperation by ministries, departments and agencies in the state is opened to your organisation anytime and I want to implore the group to step up your campaign through education and enlightenment for societal reform”, Bisiriyu said.

Child Birth Spacing: Kebbi Advocacy Core Group Celebrates Creation Of Budget Line For Activities

Advocacy Core Group, a Child Birth Spacing Advocacy Working Group, has commended Kebbi state Ministry of Health and Ministry of Budget and Planning for creating a budget line for Child Birth Spacing (CBS) programme in the state.

The body with approval for advocacy on sustainable funding for CBS in the state which started in 2015, supported by Pathfinder International, has finally hit a milestone on actualization of its key demand – the creation of a dedicated budget line for CBS activities.

According to its statement issued on Tuesday 24th September 2019 at a work plan development workshop, also supported by Pathfinder International, the move made by the state government will be a game changer towards improving the state’s Contraceptive Prevalence Rate which currently stands at 3.2% as shown by the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 report.

“We would like to commend and appreciate the action of the government for taking a step towards increasing access to CBS services in the state by creating a CBS specific budget line.

This will go a long way in contributing to the reduction of the number of women who die because of pregnancy related issues, enable women and families in the state to space their children when they want to and improve the health and well-being of the citizens in the state”

“Our effort as a group has been about improving health indices in the state and contributing to the achievement of the national CBS targets and the Sustainable Development Goals”.

“We would like to celebrate the leadership of the Ministry of Budget and Planning, especially the Director Budget and Planning, who at this work plan development workshop formalized and actualized the creation of the budget line after seeing the contributions it brings to the lives of women and Kebbi citizens in general, And the leadership of Kebbi State Ministry of Health and Primary Health Care Development Agency for all their guidance and coordination in achieving this advocacy goal”.

“We would also like to appreciate Pathfinder International for its Technical and Financial support since constituting the ACG in 2015”.

“Having achieved this first goal for a CBS budget line in the 2020 proposed budget, we will continue advocacy to ensure:

1. Passage and approval of the budget line in the 2020 budget at the Kebbi State House of Assembly.

2. Timely release and judicious utilization of CBS funds from the state’s budget in 2020 for implementation of CBS activities to improve access to information and services to women across the state.”

Family Planning: Tackling Teenage Pregnancies, Deaths In Lagos Through Prompt Budget Release

Some Civil Society Organisations(CSOs) and other stakeholders have warned that delay in the release of family planning funds is responsible for high-risk sexual behaviour and social malaise among young people.

The groups which include the Pathfinder International, Media Advocacy Working Group, MAWG, and the Public Health Sustainable Advocacy Working Group, PHSAI, made the call recently, during a dialogue to mark the Word Contraception Day.

In a presentation, the Chairman, PHSAI, Barrister Ayo Adebusoye, explained that prompt release of family planning funds by the state government would help in preventing high-risk sexual behaviour among young people.

Similarly, Adebusoye said that efforts by the State to develop its annual budget in line with family planning Costed Implementation Plan (CIP) would tackle ugly social consequences of high-risk sexual behaviours among them.

Adebusoye listing the consequences said, “Delay in acting fast is responsible for the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy, out of school girls, baby dumping, post-abortion complications, and death.”

He therefore called on the Lagos State Government to ensure timely release of family planning funds to enable the quality provision of sexual and reproductive health for young people.

The call came with the unveiling of  the 2018 Family Planning Budget Performance Scorecard  which confirmed that the government has continued to release too little to tackle issues around child spacing.

The scorecard which was made available to DAILY INDEPENDENT recently shows that the family planning need for Lagos last year was N1.3 billion, but the state allocated only N117, 500,000, and released only N9, 900,000 for the healthcare intervention.

The scorecard shows that percentage of general government allocation for family planning of ‘Total Funding Need’ was 1.35 per cent, while the percentage of general government budget allocation to ‘Family Planning Released As Scheduled’ was 5.57 per cent.

These and other factors cumulatively put the general performance of the government expenditure on family planning at 0.75 per cent.

Adebusoye also said, only about N87,935,800 allocated for Family Planning (FP) activities out of the ,654,800 was allocated for reproductive health in Lagos state 2019 budget.

Adebusoye also said that Lagos CPR target to increase its family planning uptake from 48 to 74 percent by 2018 (now revised after the 2017 London summit to 2020).The targeted increase in CPR.

The scorecard was developed by the Public Health Sustenance Advocacy Initiative (PHSAI) using analysis of budget and policy documents.

Adebusoye observed that though Lagos has made a relative progress on the amount allocated to family planning, the actual money released for its implementation is still low as the scorecard showed.

According to him, Lagos is one of the first to have specific budget line for family planning, as against development partners who usually champion the drive.

He said, “Now that the state has that budget line, we are hoping it actually starts releasing budgeted funding for it.

“Considering the huge population of Lagos State, family planning is very important to both the health and the economy of the people.

“Local governments in the state have no excuse not to increase family planning budget and release, because they now get monies directly from the federal government.

“We need to work innovatively, using strategies and alliances so that we can improve the family planning space in Lagos State.”

Also speaking, the Senior Reproductive Health Officer, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Mrs. Idowu Okanlawon said majority of Lagos residents were aware of family planning, but that uptake still remains low, adding that men should be involved in the intervention to drive it faster.

Communications & Media Officer, Pathfinder Nigeria, Mrs. Somto Atuanya, urged the state government to show serious commitment to family planning, Cost Implementation Plan Reviews, budget lines creation among others.

Atuanya said she was glad that some states were getting involved in family planning, but that more push was still needed to be done to meet global target.

“We are presently working in 12 states to push the agenda. Family planning commodities are given free, but a lot of women are still not able to access them.

“Access here also includes inability to pay for it in places where providers sell them. We need to do more in tackling the hurdles to family planning uptake,” she stressed.

Representing Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health(AYSRH) in Lagos, Mr. Abiodun Ajayi, commended the State government for the bold steps it has taken over the years to increase young people’s access to youth-friendly sexual reproductive health.

Ajayi however, stressed the need for urgent discussions around adolescents and youth’s family planning issues at all levels.

He identified challenges facing uptake of family planning services by young people in Lagos to include lack of access to adequate and accurate life planning information, inadequate youth-friendly health facilities, provider bias, and poor knowledge of contraceptive options and benefits among others.

Remarking, Rashidat Umar, of Ministry of Youth and Social Development said the Ministry refers youths to the Hello Lagos for reproductive health and rights issues. We have specific schedules for these young people to suit their needs.

Reacting to the report of unfriendly providers at the various youth centres, she said, the Ministry is currently working on them for a change of attitude.

Also, commenting, Dr. Abimbola Folami, the Assistant Reproductive Health Programme Officer, Lagos ministry of health complained that most youth providers’ centres cited out of the hospitals received backlash from the communities as the centres is believed to encourage young girls in procuring family planning services meant for adults.

However, continuous advocacy visits to local government chairman can change the tide on youth access to family planning, Folami said.

The World Health Organisation(WHO) says family planning allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births, and that this should be achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of involuntary infertility.

World Contraception Day is a worldwide campaign observed annually on September 26 the aim to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.

Save The Children Launches Inspiring Project To Curb Pneumonia

Some of the dignitaries at the Save The Children event

With pneumonia being the second biggest killer of under-5 children worldwide, Save The Children International unveiled the report of its Integrated and Sustained Childhood Pneumonia and Infectious Disease Reduction in Nigeria (INSPIRING) project targeted to curb the menace.

The launch of INSPIRING project, a situational analysis of the disease in Lagos and Jigawa states was to formally flag-off the scheme in the two states.

Pneumonia reportedly killed 880,000 U-5 children globally in 2016 alone. Half of these were recorded in only five countries, one of which is Nigeria which also recorded about 19/1000 deaths of U-5 children in 2016.

The INSPRING report estimates that  Jigawa state records about 14,988 cases of pneumonia, while Lagos state records about 17, 955 cases every year.

Launching the report in Lagos, the State Child Survival Strategic Coordinator, Dr. Saida Ogaga, representing the Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akinola Abayomi, applauded Save the Children for its timely intervention through the pneumonia project.

Abayomi also said that the project is coming at a time the Lagos state government needs to showcase its efforts and child survival activities in the state.

She expressed the state government’s commitment to support the project and any other programme aimed at promoting health and well-being of the people in the state.

Dr. Ogaga was optimistic that the INSPIRING intervention would be on an integrated approach, encompassing detection, treatment and prevention.

Stating reasons Save the Children decided to focus on pneumonia, the organisation’s Chief of Party, Save the Children Project, Dr. Adamu Isah said the disease remains the biggest killer of children under 5 both globally and in Nigeria.

“If you look at the Global Health Observatory in 2016 they are saying out of 5.6 million U-5 deaths in the world, about a million was caused by pneumonia.

What is more important is that five countries contributed more than half of that million. Our dear Nigeria is one of those countries and 18 per cent of mortality which translates to 127,000 deaths, or even more, is connected to pneumonia. So certainly it is a serious problem which is under-diagnosed, under-recognized, under- treated and under-reported.

“A UNICEF report in 2015 shows that actually 61 per cent of all-cause mortality in children U-5 happened from day zero to the first year of life so, most of the death we are seeing in under-5 is actually within their first year of life.

Pneumonia cause specific is even greater. 67 per cent of the deaths caused by pneumonia happened when the children were less than a year old. It happened in the grassroots, the slums and many other places,” he said.

Dr. Isah also quoted the Global Health Observatory report which showed that cases of many diseases declined during the 15-year period between 2000 and 2015 worldwide, with measles declining by 85 per cent, HIV/AIDS by 61 per cent and malaria by 60 per cent.

He said the report also showed that only pneumonia did not reduce appreciatively, recording only 47 per cent decline in 15 years.

On the rational for choosing Jigawa and Lagos states for the project, he described the two states as very far apart and with different cultural background, but with a high number of pneumonia cases and deaths among children.

“One is rural, agrarian, conservative, (situated) around the Sahel region – almost close to the Sahara, with high number of very young people, high fertility rate and many other things.

The other is almost by the coast; it is the commercial centre of the country with a lot of rich and poor people and slums.  It is the home of Nollywood, music and a lot of other things.”

He disclosed that the project would adopt the Global Action for the control of pneumonia, as recommended by WHO and UNICEF, which involves promotion, prevention, treatment diagnosis, among others, in its implementation in the two states.

“We are going to try as much as we can, to support the states in doing that. In Jigawa which we consider a rural community, we are going to have a lot of community engagements.

We want to change their perception and health seeking behavior and establish a linkage between the primary health care centres, where we want to work, with the secondary health care facilities to ensure there’s a two-way referral facility.

“In the case of Lagos which is more of an urban state, we want to focus more on the use of technology. We want to bring in pulse oximeters and oxygen system.

Where they have, we want to improve on it and provide, where they there is none.”

Dr. Isah urged all stakeholders to join Save the Children and do the needful to “to control this terrible problem of pneumonia.”

Presenting the final report of the INSPIRING Situational Analysis, Prof. Adegoke Falade a renowned professor of peadiatrics at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan disclosed that the analysis was designed to generate gender-sensitive evidence on the current state of pneumonia in children aged 0-59 months in Jigawa and Lagos states.

Key findings of the analysis, according to him include, among others; Care-seeking for children with pneumonia was poor in both states, with only 38.7 per cent and 31.4 per cent of caregivers from Jigawa and Lagos recognizing at least one symptom of pneumonia.

Vaccine coverage with PVC-10 (vaccine) was high in Lagos but low in Jigawa.

There were clear differences in the type of facilities available in Lagos and Jigawa with more private providers in Lagos and more primary providers in Jigawa.

Oxygen and pulse oximeters were not universally available across secondary care and were less available along with other IMCI equipment in Jigawa.

Knowledge of pneumonia was generally poor among community members and was associated with several misconceptions around the origin of the illness – and therefore their subsequent decision to seek care.

Obviously, there is need for specific policies and guidelines on pneumonia as well as advocates to push for strong political actions to tackle the disease, according to stakeholders.

SFH Seeks Improved Access Of Adolescent Girls To Health

The Society for Family Health(SFH) has called on the Federal Government to boost adolescent girls’ access to health and critical social services as part of the efforts towards achieving major targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A statement which was made available to DAILY INDEPENDENT weekend, SFH Deputy Project Director of Adolescents 360 (A360), Pharm. Fifi Ogbondeminu said adolescent access to health would promote social inclusiveness and help drive down maternal mortality such as unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion among adolescent girls and women.

According to the statement, Ogbondeminu  who spoke at the National Conference on Inclusivity, Equality & Diversity in University Education hosted by the University of Lagos explained  that SFH started A360 in June 2017 to break down barriers to some critical social and health services for adolescent girls aged 15 – 19 years by creating safe spaces in public health facilities where they can achieve their dreams by acquiring life skills, vocational skills, and making informed choices to create the future they want.

She further said that A360 co-designed the 9ja Girls programme in southern Nigeria and Matasa Matan Arewa (MMA) in the north with adolescent girls and their influencers.

The programme is funded by the Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

Ogbondeminu noted that a good starting point is the review and implementation of the National Policy on Integrating Youth-Friendly Services into Existing Primary Health Care Centres.

“While testing prototypes when A360 started, we considered the use of the existing youth-friendly centres and PHCs to determine which was better for integrating youth-friendly services into the system.

“We found out that girls were willing to access services in PHCs as long as the providers were youth-friendly,” she said.

The organisation therefore called on the federal and state governments to upscale safe spaces for adolescent girls to more primary health care facilities.

The statement said, “The government could adopt replicable components of A360 programmes and absorb the trained volunteers, which will ensure trained and skilled youth-friendly providers remain in the system and girls continue to have access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) services even after A360 project closes out in 2020.

“States should also train service providers to be youth-friendly and provide Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health, thereby increasing the network of youth-friendly service providers, which will in turn increase access.”

The Regional Coordinator of the A360 Project, Adebusola Odulaja said one of the challenges of the progamme was long distances to facilities, and that adolescents are usually deprived of access to services.

Odulaja explained, “We see cases of facility security personnel turning girls back, thereby denying them access.”

“By ensuring inclusiveness for adolescents, SDG Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages); and Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) will be automatically addressed.

Other major SDG targets that may be impacted are those relating to reduction of maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births; ending the epidemic of AIDS and other sexually transmissible infections; ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

PSN Bemoans Poor Financial Support To Post Graduate Pharmacists

Pharmacists under the auspices of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, (PSN) have bemoaned that there is very little of government support towards pharmacists’ post graduate studies.
They flayed a situation whereby pharmacists are left to take responsibility of the complete cost of their residency/Consultancy programme.
Explaining this to journalists in Lagos recently at an event to commemorate World Pharmacists’ Day, marked yearly, on September 25, the President of PSN, Pharm Sam Ohuabunwa stressed that there is need for the government to support continuous retraining of pharmacists to enable them update themselves with latest trend in the sector.
He stressed that government should grant scholarships to pharmacy students for postgraduate and postdoctoral training abroad, especially for the new and emerging areas of Intensive Care (IC).
Specifically, Ohuabunwa said, “Health is dynamic and pharmacists need training and retraining to retool for emerging and reemerging health problems. There is very little of government support towards Pharmacists Post graduate studies.
“The government should grant scholarships for postgraduate and postdoctoral training abroad, especially for the new and emerging areas of Intensive care (IC) and emergency care pharmacy for transfer of technology and skill to the Nigerian Pharmacists.”

PSN To Tackle Economic Volatility In Pharmacy Practice At Kaduna Annual Confab

From Right: Pharm (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), unveiling the conference logo on Monday, while Chief Emeka Duru, Secretary, PSN; Dr. Egbuna Udeorah, Conference Planning Committee(CPC) Head of Exhibition & Un-officio member PSN; from Left: Pharmacist (Dr.) Ejiro Foyobo, Deputy President, South, PSN and Pharm Bankole Ezebuilo, Conference Planning Committee Chairman watch.


All roads lead to Kaduna State for Pharmacists and all stakeholders on Monday, November 4, 2019 for the Annual Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) which would run through Saturday November 9, 2019.

Pharm. (Mazi) Sam Ohuabunwa, PSN President, at a pre-conference briefing with newsmen announced that the conference with the theme, “Navigating the winds of change in professional practice in a volatile economy,” was structured to address key areas of need towards retooling for best world practices in the coming year; peer review to close up gaps in practice between Nigeria and other countries with better health indices and between states for knowledge transfer from one institution to another; and a platform to showcase research findings, new technologies, pharmaceutical products and consumables.

Ohuabunwa said he would be hosting the maiden conference as President and would be working assiduously with the conference planning committee to ensure a conference of international standard.

“The themes of our conferences always address a pressing need of the time. Given the present economic quagmire we have found ourselves, and its great impact on the health and wellbeing of Nigerians, we have framed our discussion for this conference on pharmaco economics; hence the theme and carefully selected scholar and cultivated speaker, Prof. Pat Utomi, a professor of Political Economy and management expert, to give the keynote address,” he said.

Ohuabunwa said some other brilliant personalities would speak on sub-themes bordering on contemporary issues, adding that Pharm. Bankole Ezebuilo, the Conference Planning Committee Chairman, “would take us through the plans and expectations of the conference at the right time.”

“Gentlemen and ladies of the press, even a common man in the street who does not understand macroeconomics knows that our resources and means of production are dwindling and consequently pressing on every facet of our life, not even sparing healthcare.

“Economic volatility is the new norm so we must begin to change the way we do things. I do not intend to pre-empt the conference keynote address speaker, but to highlight a few points in the direction of the new order,” the PSN president said.

He explained that from the Alma-Ata Declaration in 1978, Bamako Initiative of 1987, Abuja Call of 2006, even 2008 WHO’s reports, primary healthcare reforms has been identified as the main tool to deliver equitable healthcare services to secure the health of communities.

“Primary healthcare is essential to strengthening Nigeria’s healthcare system and a low hanging fruit towards achieving the sustainable development goals. Pharmacists occupy a very strategic position in the primary healthcare delivery pattern of Nigeria, being the most accessible, qualified healthcare professionals, located within 200 meters in our towns and cities.  Unfortunately healthcare in our country is financed by out of pocket expenditure which is inequitable and exposes the people to huge cost burden.

“The impact of this, especially in the present economy, is that it has become difficult to sustain professional practices with poor patronage and the one world order, thanks to technology, closing down on the developing countries.

“Finished products are dumped on us, from other countries at the expense of developing our local brands. Professionals are challenged and beyond the tipping point, resilience will be lost and if not checked, structure and function could be lost. In a nutshell, the winds of change have impacted on professional practice in the following ways:

.Thrown up rife competition: Whatever service you offer today, someone has improved on it at a lower cost.

Pressure on pharmacists to deliver more services: The pharmacy degree alone may not guarantee a progressive career, as same task yesterday may require a different approach today.

Very narrow profit margins: We have issues with regulation of the pharmacy practice space, so charlatans falsify the real cost of pharmaceutical care and products.

Poor wages: This is simple. Most pharmacists are employed by the private sector and you can only pay from what you make.

New frontiers: The exchange rate has made Nigerians consider local options.”

Pharm. Ohuabunwa added that navigation is a must as professionals to cushion and leverage the disrupted practice environment and as such there would be need for the following:

Promotion of wellness against medical care to lessen the burden on the volatile economy.

Co-operation between pharmacists and other healthcare providers for better patient treatment outcome.

Partnership will rule the future as poorly financed enterprises are the first casualties of a volatile economy.

Information technology defines your reach. Any practice that is not IT-driven will struggle as the world is now a global village.

Services must be need driven. This is the time for “ear to ground of the local market,” as the practice pattern or layout in Lagos may not serve Kaduna.

“I can say that pharmacists as well as stakeholders are enthusiastic about this conference given the number of registrations and subscriptions we’ve seen. The government and people of Kaduna are very receptive and in high spirit to welcome us all. Kaduna promises to be more than a conference,” Ohuabunwa stated.

Contributing, Pharm. Bankole Ezebuilo, the Conference Planning Committee Chairman, said, “We want to create a special experience in the mind of every individual having on mind that people come for conferences for specific reasons; some come to gain knowledge, some people come to network, some people come to relax, some even take it as a vacation while some even come to take advantage of the unique prices so that they can get drugs at a better price.

“Starting from our key holder address speaker, a renowned professor of Political Economy, you will agree with me that the topic is well accepted, and when you also look at our primary sections, it is going to be pharmacy showing off the calibre of people in that profession.

“A lot of pharmacists in the academia also come to discuss their research work, and fortunately for us in the profession a clinical pharmacist will also come in to talk about new development and antics, which is already going through half past clinical trial.

“So these are the kind of things delegates experience in our conference; if you are to update your knowledge, we are stuffed with a lot of knowledge to pass down.

“Then if you are also coming to network, this is an international conference where we are having a lot of pharmacists, pharmacies, from the U.K. from U.S. coming to Nigeria. So it is an opportunity for Nigerian pharmacists to collaborate, network, partner and also find out better ways to do their practice and better ways to do business with people outside as networking is also key for this conference.”

Ezebuilo added, “If you are coming to the conference to relax, starting from the opening ceremony, for the first time, we are introducing comedian. We are going to have a drama on drug abuse because drug abuse is disastrous in the country; so we are going to have a drama on drug abuse on our opening ceremony day.

“So if you are in our conference to relax, we are going to make sure that you relax with the kind of activities we are going to introduce as there will be a lot of fun activities. Then if you are coming for vacation, we have our excursion site where you can see tourist and tradition attractions.

“Community pharmacists and pharmaceuticals will also take advantage of retail prices pharmaceuticals companies are going to offer. It is in two ways, the pharmacists that are buying these drugs will benefit and the pharmaceuticals that are selling these drugs will also have return on investment.

“For us to achieve that, we have created an international inclusion site, three thousand square metres. And in these three thousand square metres, we have created curtailed area; lounges where people can actually seat down, discuss and transact business, in a serene environment.

“Our exhibition area is an international standard exhibition area, and business will be transacted in the serene environment. We have also looked at what are we going to do to make coming to Kaduna easy for delegates. We have engaged the Nigerian Railway Corporation for discussion and we have put couches down for delegates. So they can come to Kaduna if they want to pass through Abuja to Kaduna, they have to board the train at the same price that the railway is charging but what we have done is that we have eased the issue of stress of coming to Kaduna and standing in queue. So on Monday, 4th of November by 6 a.m., 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. we have these coaches reserved for pharmacists, so they can easily come in to Kaduna.”

Ezebuilo also talked about the mobile app that would enable pharmacists to check in for the conference and decide the administration they are going to pick their material.

“In that app also you can also watch what is happening in the conference without being in the conference, our YouTube, twitter and social media will be all on.

“We have shuttle buses that will also take delegate from their hotel to the event centre; it will run at intervals, so delegates wouldn’t experience the stress of running round to look for buses that would take them around.

“We have also brought in things like Uber in Kaduna; we have 50 luxury vehicles that would, that if any delegate wants to do any private business in Kaduna, they will have the comfort they want all at a very affordable price.

“With all these, the security issue, I know is of concern, as our president has said. All security agencies in Kaduna are working tirelessly to make sure that Kaduna is safe for delegates. All these provisions are made so that delegates will have a stress-free stay in Kaduna.”

JOHESU/AHPA Condemns ICRC Concessioning Of Public Health Facilities

Joint Health Sector Union and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association (JOHESU/AHPA) has condemned and rejected the approval of the concessioning of facilities in public health institutions in the country by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

JOHESU/AHPA which constitutes 95 per cent of health workforce in the country said concession of facilities in public health institutions would compromise the lives of the vast majority of Nigerians and compound their existing problems.

JOHESU/AHPA in a release by its Chairman, Biobelemoye Joy Josiah, described the concession approval as a hurricane that would speed up a “descent to a bottomless pit of fruitlessness and un-productivity in healthcare.”

It therefore urged the Federal Government to immediately stop the concessioning of Teaching Hospital facilities to private profiteers. It as well advised other health professionals who have been promised that concessioning of health facilities would not affect them to be wary and discern wisely.

The ICRC is an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the development and implementation of Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework for the provision of infrastructure services.

The union contended that the reality in economic terms was that the majority of the people live in poverty and squalor and so cannot access or afford safe and efficacious drugs even in public facilities as it stands at the moment.

“Any attempt to concession facilities in public health institutions will compromises the lives of the vast majority of Nigerians and compounds their existing woes. As a matter of fact, concessioning, privatisation or mutilated PPP agenda at this point in the evolution of endeavours in Nigeria is a direct invitation to morbidity and mortality.  The only option that works in the maximum interest of Nigerians at this time is to allow healthcare remain a social welfare service to consumers of health,” it warned.                                                                                                                                         

JOHESU/AHPA advised the Federal Government to admonish the profiteers and greedy entrepreneurs jostling to take over public health facilities to be responsible enough to build their own world class health facilities like their counterparts do in the global arena.

JOHESU/AHPA said it has continued to collate evidence based data at the local and international levels on the desirability or otherwise of concessioning, privatisation or mutilated PPP agenda and after a very critical evaluation of the various issues, wished to further posit that the Guild of Medical Directors, an influential Medical Stakeholder, has continually insisted that over three quarters of Health Facilities in Nigeria’s Health Sector are private concerns.

“In order words, if 75 per cent of the facilities are already Private Sector driven entities without commensurate impact, then compelling a shift/orientation of Federal Health Institutions (FHIs) which are public sector facilities to become private facilities will not fundamentally impact on the Health System. What the Health Systems needs is a complete redress that takes care of the in-depth corruption in the management of the FHIs, lopsided composition of the Boards of Management (BOM) of the FHIs, appointment of competent CEOs for the FHIs as well as a responsible benefit package for all cadres of the healthcare workforce in the various FHIs.

“A glaring example of the exploitative propensities of the Private Hospitals in our Health System is the pricing index of drugs when private sector facilities are compared to public sector pharmacies and private sector pharmacy facilities. World Health Organisation (WHO) studies reveal that there is a 193 per cent and 188 per cent differential in the baseline pricing of drug prices in Private Hospital facilities over what is obtainable in Public Sector Pharmacy facilities and Private Pharmacy facilities.”

This, it said, expressly defeats the goals and objectives of the National Drug Policy 2005 which advocates accessibility, affordability and efficacious drugs in our health system.

“At a time the life expectancy of a Nigerian is 54.5 years because of prevailing challenges in health, the situation will only get worse because more Nigerians will not have access to affordable and efficacious drugs. In similar vein, life expectancy will be jeopardised when the cardinal goal of National Health Policy which also seeks accessible and affordable Healthcare services is truncated,” it said.

A scenario whereby presumably state of the art health facilities cannot be afforded by consumers of health makes them inaccessible contrary to the goals of the National Health Policy.

“Recent Government decision to increase VAT from five per cent to 7.2  per cent is bound to further worsen escalating cost of Healthcare in Nigeria. The cost of care services including drug, dressings, medical consumables, equipment and related items are bound to increase Health Services exponentially by about 20 per cent in the months ahead. This increase will directly become applicable in FHIs in the event any of these FHIs get into the hands of concessionaires,” it contended.

JOHESU said that from a global perspective, a report of the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU), the Business Faculty, University of Greenwich, London, U.K titled Financing Healthcare: False Profits and the Public Good gives a most incisive and revealing insight into the un-endless demerits of Concessioning and Privatisation arrangements in Healthcare.

“The report says financial consolidation, escalating healthcare costs and demographic changes are placing universal public health care under increasing pressure. In this environment, the idea that the Private Sector is more efficient, effective and better able to fund healthcare than the public sector has been promoted.

“After almost 30 years of privatisation in the healthcare sector, the evidence shows that these claims do not reflect the evidence. Comparisons of total health spending at national level show that countries with higher private spending on health spend more on healthcare and achieve worse results in key indicators of national health. Countries such as the U.K and Sweden spend less than 10 per cent of GDP on healthcare of which over 80 per cent is public expenditure. By comparison, the USA spends almost 18 per cent of GDP on healthcare, of which less than 50 per cent is public, but has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates. France which has very high life expectancy and low infant mortality rates spends 11.4 per cent of GDP on health of which 76.7 per cent is public.

“The reasons for the efficiency and effectiveness of the public provision of health are not complex. Administrative costs of public insurers are routinely and dramatically lower than private insurers. Public systems, with a single payer system in the form of a government or state run agency, produce efficiencies of scale and are better able to control costs. This is the damning result from the global healthcare environment where whatever we do around here stems from since the concept of healthcare is not and will never be an indigenous professional plan.”

It said the United Kingdom which has always been adjudged an international benchmark in a workable version of Social Health Insurance and Health System is beginning to fail because of the increasing influence of private profiteers. More private sector engagement in health is surely beginning to hurt the U.K. economy in the last few years. The involvement of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in the health system of the U.K. has increased the cost of health by a factor of three.

“This development is hinged on the reality that Public Systems better control over-servicing and ensure the most appropriate form of treatment. Conversely, private providers also pay more to borrow, exploding the myth that they bring more and cheaper financing to healthcare.

“Despite widely held beliefs to the contrary, funding universal public healthcare systems through general taxation is more efficient, creates better healthcare outcomes and is more equitable than the private alternatives.

“Finally, the JOHESU/AHPA makes bold to say the Federal Government should be decisive in taking a position that the profiteers, greedy entrepreneur and their collaborators in government circles jostling to take over public health facilities in Nigeria be responsible enough to build their own world class health facilities like their counterparts do in the global arena.

“The tragedy of the ICRC approval of the concessioning of 22 FHIs is one of the tragic fall-outs of the Economic Team of the FG between 2015 and 2019. In Lagos State where the privatisation of healthcare was kick-started by these same dramatis personae, the experiment has failed,” JOHESU said.

To substantiate its position, JOHESU/AHPA said that at the Federal level, the commercialisation of the pharmacy facility of the UCH, Ibadan, collapsed and the concessioning of Garki Hospital, Abuja, has never been a value added decision.

“Today, that facility is a shadow of itself, as it has become inaccessible to wide cognoscenti of consumers of health in the Abuja area.

“JOHESU/AHPA, therefore strongly urges the Federal Government to immediately stop the concessioning of Teaching Hospital facilities to private profiteers… Private profiteers will naturally get rid of the block of health professionals whose wages consume 60 per cent of the entire health workforce in Federal Health Institutions (FHIs) even when they constitute less than five per cent of the entire personnel in the health sector,” it said.

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