Health  

Re-positioning Nigeria’s health system for future emergencies


Worried by the country’s extremely weak health system which is very poorly rated, pharmacists under the aegis of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Lagos Chapter have made recommendation on how to re-position the nation’s health system for future emergencies.

Chairman, PSN Lagos Chapter, Gbolagade Iyiola, told journalists that the Society in continuation of a critical evaluation of the health system find it necessary to prescribe two major tools to enable the country re-position the health system for future public health emergencies. These tools, the pharmacist, said are: ensuring drug availability and security in Nigeria; and building capacities and adequate competences in the Nigerian health system.

One building capacities and adequate competences in the Nigerian health system, Iyiola said Nigeria needs to get it right in its entirety by appropriately and adequately mobilising the totality of its health workforce rather than continue to promote a selective and discriminatory and self-serving professional plan which will only continue to hurt health outcomes in our country.

Iyiola recommended some measures to strengthen the health system in Nigeria and Lagos State specifically.

The pharmacist said government at all levels must begin to invest significantly into Primary Healthcare (PHC) with emphasis on preventive therapy through maximum engagement of Environmental Health Officers.

Iyiola said government at all levels must create the atmosphere for health reforms which will focus on maximising the potentials of its workforce since healthcare is a globally inclined endeavour driven by international best practice.

In the quest to open the restricted borders of progression in healthcare in Nigeria, the pharmacist urged the Presidency to direct unhindered access of training facilities to all health workers in training at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

He said the Federal Government must recognise and approve the consultancy cadre for pharmacists and other deserving health workers to improve competencies/capacities in emergencies and other times.

Iyiola drew the attention of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the suspension of the Consultancy Cadre of Pharmacists in the employment of Lagos State Government (LASG) after the Executive Committee of Lagos State approved it in 2018. This, he said, was only due to the opposition posed to the approval by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

The pharmacist urged Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to investigate the circumstances under which frontline health workers including pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others enjoy different allowances at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba.

He explained: “Doctors are paid N720,000 monthly for special services in this dispensation while only one pharmacist is remunerated. Rather ridiculously, this lone Pharmacist out of the eleven in that facility is paid a wretched N200,000 when it is only a matter of common-sense that all health workers exposed to infected patients carry same risks. In the category of volunteer health workers, doctors are paid N480,000 while pharmacists and other health workers are paid N100,000. This is certainly entrenching hopelessness in chronic invalidism.

“For the records, this is why the overwhelming majority of Pharmacists in Lagos State will not endorse or align with other templates in the Health Sector who seek to use us as pawns in a chess game designed to impose themselves as senior partners relative to the others they consign as their junior partners who must be trampled. We shall resist scenarios where those who take us to court to deny us of professional privileges and other benefit packages also will use us to achieve inordinate goals and other sundry inglorious ends.”

On ensuring drug availability and security in Nigeria, Iyiola said cardinal to this agenda is the need to ensure self-sufficiency in the production of essential drugs by local pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Iyiola said the way forward for Nigeria in the quest for self-sufficiency in drug production is to fashion ways to achieve manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

“It is embarrassing that we do not even produce enough pharmaceutical grade starch despite an avalanche of agricultural products peculiar to our clime. Pharmaceutical grade starch can be sourced easily through cassava, yam, corn and other because we are one of the largest producers of these items in the world. Government must support more investors to build a petrochemical plant which is the fulcrum to truly industrialise Nigeria,” he said.

Iyiola said the PSN looks forward to a stakeholders forum involving the Federal Government, State Governments and strategic stakeholders in the Pharma sector to revamp the spirit of the National Drug Distribution Guideline (NDDG) and other strategies to boost local manufacturing of drugs in Nigeria.

The PSN Chairman called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to improve the manpower needs in healthcare in Lagos State by immediately facilitating the commencement of a degree programme at Lagos State University (LASU) through the establishment of a Faculty/College of Pharmacy immediately.

Iyiola called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give needed approval to the clamour of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) by approving the withheld April/May, 2018 salaries of health workers under the banner of these Health Sector Unions who constitute over 95 per cent of the health workforce in Nigeria.

He also urged the Federal Government FG to motivate these health workers by making available requisite funds to take care of adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS) scale as was done with Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) since 2014 in line with terms of agreement consummated since September 30, 2017.

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