Pharmacists Have Lost Confidence in Health Minister, Says Yakasai

  • As PSN marks 2018 World Malaria Day

Pharmacists in Nigeria have lost confidence in the leadership of the Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, President of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai has said.

Speaking with newsmen at a media parley organised to mark the 2018 World Malaria Day, held at the PSN office in Lagos on Wednesday, Pharm Yakasai said the health minister has been acting as if he was minister of medical doctors alone, rather than working to protect the interest of all professionals in the health sector.

The PSN helmsman said what pharmacists and other health workers currently on strike want is equity and not equality, noting that without fairness, equity and justice to all health professionals in the health sector, it will be impossible to stop the spate of unwholesome strike action by health workers in Nigeria.

As PSN marks 2018 World Malaria Day
L-R: Pharm. Onyeka Onyeibor, managing director, Miral Pharmaceuticals; Pharm. Ahmed Yakasai, president, PSN and Pharm. Hassan Ekomobong, chairman, PSN-YPG, during the press briefing

Pharm. Yakasai said that at the root of the avoidable strikes is the desire for benefit packages and privileges for all concerned, adding that the clamours from all sides of the divide have been grossly mismanaged by government at all levels over the years.

Pharmacists and other health workers have always taken the issue of distorted wage structure with calmness over the years until more provocative incremental adjustments were awarded to doctors first in in January 2014 and then in September 2017. On both occasions, he said, the enabling circulars for doctors took only 14 days.

Pharmacists and other health workers, Pharm. Yakasai explained have been agitating for adjustment in the spirit of parity on both scales which was entrenched in the spirit of the 2009 MOU signed with the Federal Ministry of Health, adding that this agitation led to strike of health workers in 2014 and 2017. He noted that in 2017, under the aegis of JOHESU/AHPA, the Federal Government signed a five term agreement on September 30, 2017 to resolve the September strike of health workers, lamenting that despite agreeing that the agreement should be actualized within five weeks with circulars, nothing has been done seven months after.

As PSN marks 2018 World Malaria Day
Some pharmacists at the briefing in a group photograph

The PSN president urged President Buhari to ensure justice and equity is done to all concerned without further delay in the interest of consumers of health in the country.

On the 2018 World Malaria Day, Pharm. Yakasai said the theme, “Ready to Beat Malaria” underscores the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in unity around the common goal of a world free of malaria, adding that vector control is the main way to prevent and reduce malaria transmission.

While expressing sadness that malaria kills thousands of Nigerians, he said all hands must be on deck to make sure all strategies to control and eliminate malaria in Nigeria are adopted.

Most malaria cases and death, he said occur in Sub-Saharan Africa, adding that the WHO African Region continues to carry a disproportionate high share of the global malaria burden. He asked the government to make the business environment more conducive for pharma business and urged importers and manufacturers to see to it that, the provision of antimalarials is seen as a social service which will thus not require high percentage mark up.

The high point of the media parley was the announcement of World Malaria Day Essay Competition tagged RAVIMAL Essay Competition which seeks to engage young pharmacists and pharmacist students on the topic “ Ending Malaria Deaths in Africa: the challenges, the opportunities.” The best three articles will be adjudged winners with prize awarded. Winners of the competition will be announced at the Annual National Conference of the PSN and the star prize is 1 million naira, while the dean of the faculty that produces the highest number of participants and the first prize winner will get 500,000 naira each.