The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Lagos branch, has stated that, as long as the report of the committee, set up for the harmonisation of the health sector, is left unimplemented, there will be no peace among health professionals in the nation.
Speaking with Pharmanews in an exclusive interview, the Lagos PSN chairman, Pharm. Akintunde Obembe, made the stand of the society known on the issue of the national health bill, saying that they are against the idea of lording medical doctors over all other health professionals in the country, and the earlier this is resolved, the better.
“The minister of health should be told that the earlier the report of the committee, set up for the harmonisation of the health sector, is implemented, the better, because until the recommendation of the committee is carried out, there won’t be peace in the health sector. The committee did a beautiful report, I learnt, and recommended the way forward in the health sector, but the report has been abandoned by the government,” he stressed.
An infuriated Obembe, who described doctors as bad managers, said this has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt, and that is why our health index is so poor. According to a survey done on nations’ health care delivery, last year, out of 191 countries, Nigeria’s health index ranked 187.
“So we should de-emphasise the issue of doctors being the head of the hospitals. That is why all other members of the team are against this illegality. It is wrong; and so long as this abnormality is not corrected, there will not be peace in the system.”
The Lagos PSN chairman further explained that the medical director of any hospital, in sane climes where people are educated and well enlightened, is not necessarily a doctor. There is a course called hospital administration, and any health professional can offer it. As such, if it is a nurse that knows what it takes to make the system to work from his/her long years of experience in the system, he/she should be made the head of the hospital.
Another issue the group wants the government to intervene on is that of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). He said the PSN has called government’s attention to the fact that all other members of the health care team that are participating in the NHIS are supposed to be paid what is called fee for service, but that has not been done.
He said, instead, the money is usually paid to HMOs or doctors that are dispensing drugs in their premises, without the services of pharmacists.” Most of our colleagues have not received anything from this allocation, since the commencement of the scheme, and they have registered and even renewed their licenses. Honestly, as long as this lopsided arrangement continues, we cannot have an improved health care delivery for our people in this country.”
On the goals of the group for 2013, he said they want to take the activity of Pharmaceutical Inspectorate Committee (PIC) to the next level, as well as put a mega drug system in place, in order to sanitise the drug distribution system in the state.
“Thus, the government has come up with the idea of instituting a state drug distribution centre and mega drug distribution centre, and with this arrangement, we believe that the incidence of fake drug will be highly reduced.”
To enforce compliance with this new policy, when the mega drug centre is established, he stated that the PCN and NAFDAC will mandate all pharmaceutical companies to channel their products through the process. In a matter of time, when it is observed that most drugs are channeled through this special centre, the issue of patronising Idumota drug market will be drastically reduced. The prices of the drugs will be affordable and uniformed all over the state.
Asked about his assessment of the last PSN conference held in Abeokuta, Ogun State, he said it was obvious that it was one of the best in recent times, in terms of attendance, package, and so on. “The former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was around and the governor was always available. In fact, we have a lot of things to be proud of, with that conference, and we have told the state to host the next conference to take a cue from that, because that will be a yardstick to measure their performance.”